From the author, Bob Begiebing’s page: J. M. W. Turner, the greatest British landscape painter and one of the most revolutionary influences on Western art since the eighteenth century, left upon his death a rich and varied legacy to Britain’s National Gallery, including more than 19,000 sketch studies containing considerable erotica. When John Ruskin, Turner’s greatest supporter at the time, discovered the erotic works, he, with the help of National Gallery Keeper Ralph Wornum, burned most of the material they found offensive. The Turner Erotica follows narrator William James Stillman (the young American artist, Consul to Rome and Crete, friend of Ruskin, and acquaintance of Turner) as he pursues a dangerous quest across Britain, Europe, and New England to discover and save the few remaining studies that through theft and betrayal escaped Ruskin’s outraged fire. In his quest, Stillman enlists the help of Pre-Raphaelite William Rossetti, the liberated American painter Allegra Fullerton, and Sir Richard Burton (the greatest linguist, swordsman, pistol-shot, and covert agent for the British government in the 19th century). Stillman’s obsession with the surviving erotic studies arises out of their potential value to British art history and his deep sense that the studies contain a secret clue to the master’s celebrated body of public work.
The above is the background, amici. Here’s TK’s Review: Intrigue abounds in this wonderful biographical novel. Whether Stillman is re-stealing the once stolen remaining Turner sketches that weren’t burned, or trying to find the person(s) the sketches have been given for safekeeping, the Turner Erotica pulls you along the way a classic mystery does—keeping you engaged, interested and anxious to know what comes next. And there's no shortage of politics and/or religous zealotry (the cause of the initial burning--puritanical insanity).
When Stillman first re-steals the sketches, it is during a very comical yet tension filled scene, after which he becomes the prime suspect in a private investigation. Stillman goes through some personal hells, including his first wife’s suicide from melancholia and his son’s sudden fall, injury and disease (but there’s even more regarding his personal tragedies). Even after Stillman falls for a younger woman from a wealthy family (who is also an artist and a model), there’s always another obstacle in Stillman’s path to finding peace. Securing the missing Turner sketches becomes secondary several times through this adventure, including after a hired thug tries to steal them back, after which Stillman falls prey to his own jealousy over his beautiful wife ... and, well, no spoilers here, amici. You’ll have to read to find out.
TK’s favorite passage: The sketches tracings were then tracings of the eye through memory; the paintings, the synthesis of the particular and the universal. If one was the basis of the old master’s art, the other was the end of the act: the essential reality behind the optical appearances carefully studied through thousands of sketches.
A side note for SNHU MFA’ers ... the author mentions the White Mountains of New Hampshire at least 8 times (I was marking as I read and stopped at #8).
TK says: The Turner Erotica is a page turner containing all the ingredients necessary for a top notch mystery; an ongoing anxiety dream that keeps you following what happens next. This wonderful novel isn’t just for art enthusiasts ... it’s a great read for everyone.
Visit the author at his website here. And check out the accompanying music selected by TK at the bottom ... from Tosca.
And here’s a wonderful short story from Richard Adams Carey, a devout fan of the Moonachie Blue Team, a terrific mentor and a great writer. Ruby Thursday ...
Check out the other Stones’ song mentioned in Rick’s short story, Ruby Thursday, at the bottom of this post ...
The Strength to Wage War, by William Weidner ... a fascinating article about the politics of war during WWII, wherein Great Britain had to hold fast, for political and moral reasons (both on battlefronts and at home), to General Montgomery, Eisenhower chewed glass (more or less) while waiting for dear Monty to break out at Caen, and ultimately he did the politically correct thing and allowed Churchill to have his way (and save Monty). You can find Mr. Weidner's article in the Early Fall '2012 Issue of WWII History.
Author William Weidner is a veteran of the U.S. Army. His book Eisenhower AND Montgomery at the Falaise Gap was selected by the Military Writers Society of America as its book of the month in January 2011 and nominated by the group for its 2011 Non-Fiction History Award. He resides in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Pictures from the First Grandchild’s Baby Shower (is that what they call these things?) … First up: Phat Dad and the expecting Dad ... notice the similarity in body types.
Phat Dad and his boyos ...
Phat Dad and his figlia (daughter to yous nons) ...
Who’s more pregnant, the Phat Dad or Leslie (the Mom)?
That baby Stella girl is gonna have one fat Grandpa, eh?
Wednesday night is Rivalry Night on NBC Sports channel … and this past week it was the Flyers at the Penguins for one of the wildest games I’ve ever seen. What impressed me most was the non-stop tenacity of each team. I’d missed much of the first period (when the game was tied 2-2) but the rest of the game was an incredible display of determination by both teams. The Flyers went up 5-3 at one point and then took back-to-back-to-back penalties and the Penguins capitalized on their power play with two goals, but one was called off because the puck was kicked into the net. Not a problem, they quickly tied the game anyway. I thought the momentum had swung for good until there was a minute or so left in the game and the Flyers managed to put one behind the Penguin’s goalie’s back. Forgetaboutit … so I don’t know all the names yet … I probably couldn’t spell them anyway. What a game!
And then Thursday night I had to watch our Rangers blow another game ... oy vey, it’s like rooting for the Bills all over ... but at least now I can ignore baseball … again.
Speaking of erotica ... the most erotic aria ever ... the wonderful Bryn Terfel as Scarpia, singing the Te Deum, from Tosca ...
As a follow-up to Rick’s story up above (and because it’s mentioned in the story), my favorite Stones’ song ... what else? Sympathy for the Devil ...