Sunday, 13 September 2020

Book Review: Art is Everything by Yxta Maya Murray (Contemporary/Literary Fiction)

Title: Art is Everything
Author: Yxta Maya Murray
Publisher: Triquarterly
Publication Date: 2021
Pages: 229
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living peacefully in Koreatown; Amanda is about to enjoy a residency at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and, once she gets her NEA, she’s going to film a groundbreaking autocritical documentary in Mexico.

But then everything starts to fall apart when Xochitl’s biological clock begins beeping, Amanda’s father dies, and she endures a sexual assault. What happens to an artist when her emotional support vanishes along with her feelings of safety and her finances? Written as a series of web posts, Instagram essays, Snapchat freakouts, rejected Yelp reviews, Facebook screeds, and SmugMug streams-of-consciousness that merge volcanic confession with eagle-eyed art criticism,
Art Is Everything shows us the painful but joyous development of a mid-career artist whose world implodes just as she has a breakthrough.

 

Art is Everything is one of the most experimental books I have ever read. At first I found it difficult to get into, but eventually, when I accustomed myself to the style, I began to enjoy it. I struggled to relate to Amanda in many ways, mostly due to her online rants (being more of a bottle-it-up person myself); however, those essays were (ranting aside) full of incredibly interesting information. For example, I had never heard the story of how dark the original Pretty Woman script was. This morning, I Googled it and discovered everything mentioned about it in Art is Everything is true. So, it was certainly an informative read as well as a thought-provoking one. On the latter side of things, the book explores many issues from the nature of art and the artist to dealing with sexual assault. In conclusion, I would say this is not a book that is going to appeal to all readers, but if you are willing to try something completely different and come at it with an open mind, Art is Everything is a book that will leave you with a lot to contemplate. It was a 3.5 star read for me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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