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The Book of Portraiture, The Book of Portraiture, 1573661287, 1-57366-128-7, 978-1-57366-128-7, 9781573661287,

The Book of Portraiture
A Novel
Steve Tomasula

Quality Paper
2006. 350 pp.
Price:  $19.95 t

A desert nomad struggles at the close of the ancient world to inscribe himself into life, and centuries later a Renaissance artist attempts to overcome his lowly origins by painting nobility. Throughout Steve Tomasula's arresting tour de force, human beings seek to become what they are by representing it. An early twentieth-century psychoanalyst in search of a cure for sexual neurosis discovers the reflection of his own yearning in a female client, and an accidental community of twenty-first century image-makers connects the pixels to bring their group portrait into focus.Across a canvas that spans centuries, the several narrators of this novel look through the lens of their own time and portray objects of desire in paint, dreams, photography, electronic data, and genetic code. Together their portraits comprise a collage of styles and habits of mind. The Book of Portraiture is a novel about the irrepressible impulse to picture ourselves, and how, through this picturing, we continually re-create what it means to be human.



Steve Tomasula is the author of the acclaimed novels IN & OZ (Ministry of Whimsy) and VAS: An Opera in Flatland. Among the venues where his short fiction has appeared are McSweeney's and The Iowa Review, where he received the distinguished Iowa Prize. His writings on body art and culture have appeared in Leonardo and numerous arts journals.

"A grand historical account of how the act of representing others always includes a representation of the self. . . . Reimagines what the novel, particularly the historical novel, might mean in the digital world, and it does so with verve, gusto, and style."--Bookforum

"Once again, Steve Tomasula has fabricated an incisive and sly commentary on art's way of being in the world, and the manner in which it intersects, and conflicts, with our perceptions. Virtuosic in its execution, and sublime in its discernment, The Book of Portraiture is an able continuation of Tomasula's ongoing project to redraw the boundaries of contemporary fiction."--Christopher Sorrentino

"Think of Swift, Groddeck, Lautreamont, and George Carlin conversing together in a large wastebin--up to their chins in 21st century sweepings--and you will begin to have an idea of Tomasula's very funny, very smart and downright scary epic vision."--Rikki Ducornet

"Tomasula's five interlocking chapters cross continents and centuries and aesthetic sensibilities to build to a dazzling and dizzying whole. The Book of Portraiture is one of those rare books that manage to be at once emotionally and theoretically satisfying."--Brian Evenson

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