The Suicide of Claire Bishop

The Suicide of Claire Bishop

A Novel

Book - 2015
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"My friend and former Hunter classmate, Sarah Eggers, wrote a poem years ago referencing an anecdote about Frida Kahlo that has never left me: Clare Boothe Luce, editor of Vanity Fare, commissioned Frida to paint a commemorative portrait of her close friend, Dorothy Hale, a Ziegfeld girl and struggling actress who had committed suicide. Frida took it upon herself to execute an "ex-voto" style painting, detailing Dorothy's jump from the sixteenth floor of a building by Central Park, from which she lands upon a stage. Needless to say, Boothe was offended and horrified and thought of destroying it. The painting disappeared for many years, until it was donated anonymously to the Phoenix Art Museum. (I've only recently learned the there are several blogs and film projects dedicated to "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, " uncovering the cynical mystery of her death. But that is another story.) The other theme of my novel--mental illness--stemmed from people close to me who had dealt with schizophrenia first-hand. There are so few novels that get close to this point of view, and even fewer in first-person. So, with their blessings and encouragement, I listened to their stories--from hallucinations to the alienation they felt around friends and family--and attempted to commit a version of their experiences to the page. I wrote this book so that I might understand them better, to enhance my own empathy, and to enter a voice into the literary dialogue that those with mental illness might recognize and that everyone else might relate to" -- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Ann Arbor, MI : Dzanc Books, 2015.
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 9781938103087
1938103084
Characteristics: 386 pages ; 23 cm.

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msp_pier
Nov 04, 2015

i'm still trying to wrap my head around this book. the premise was great: suicide, art, nyc in the 50's, schizophrenia. i expected this great, mind blowing novel. the beginning was a little slow for me, however, i loved Claire's story. West's story was eh. the middle of the book picked up and it felt like, finally, we're getting to the good stuff! the pace picked up only to be a huge let down in the end. nothing was solved. i was more confused with the ending than i was when i started reading! too many questions were left unanswered, and while sometimes i totally get it and it works, this book did not.

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