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Stealing picasso review 6.09.2009
 

Stealing picasso review 6.09.2009

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Book Review for The Mudgee Guardian by CK Bray 06.09.2009

Book Review for The Mudgee Guardian by CK Bray 06.09.2009

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    Stealing picasso review 6.09.2009 Stealing picasso review 6.09.2009 Document Transcript

    • STEALING PICASSO Author: Anson Cameron <br />Publisher: Vintage AustraliaISBN 9781741669176RRP $32.95Reviewed by: CK Bray <br />Find yourself submerged in the eclectic Melbourne art scene with some seriously strange off-shoots of society in Anson Cameron’s latest book, ‘Stealing Picasso.’<br />Loosely based on the true story of Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”, which was stolen from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986 by a group calling itself the Australian Cultural Terrorists, this story is as vivid and outlandish as Picasso’s works themselves.<br />We are sentenced to spend the tale primarily in the drug-addled minds of Harry Broome, an aspiring artist living in a greasy hovel, and Turton Pym, his aging and bitter art teacher who is unable to even finish a painting because he is so consumed with jealousy that his former contemporaries Whitely and Olsen have found fame while he wallows in the catacombs of the National Gallery School of Art. Both men have a penchant for violent, pornographic art.<br />Cameron introduces increasingly bizarre characters such as a Michael Jackson impersonator who is forced to “sell his hero” by working as a gay escort when Jackson is condemned as a paedophile and the mimic’s public appearance gigs dry up. I’m astounded at the excellent timing of such a plot line.<br />The aggressively violent Stinking Pariahs, a bikie gang, actually appear reasonable, even affable compared to the revolting, morality-free zone personified by twisted tycoon Laszlo Berg. Thank goodness for the infrequent respite provided by the several female characters who I found far calmer and easier to relate to, however superficially they are represented, an oasis in an otherwise chaotic story.<br />All of these eccentric individuals want Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”.<br />We are drawn even further into a world riddled with hostility and violence, written by a gifted male author, allowing further insight into how a male mind works, which both fascinates and concerns me. Call me a Pollyanna, but I find it unpleasant to be immersed in an existence which is constantly obsessed with establishing dominance, marking one’s territory and getting the other guy before he gets you.<br />The unremitting confrontation is exhausting and off-putting and, though I found ‘Stealing Picasso’ extremely absorbing, I found it increasingly difficult to force myself to return to it after putting it down.<br />There is no doubt that Cameron is a huge talent in Australian literature. His writing is richly descriptive and engaging. There are laugh-out-loud scenarios which are so real you feel you are witnessing them first-hand.<br />Cameron presents such razor sharp insights into human behaviour that I was shocked to find myself not acknowledging the driving motivations of these characters as valid, but understanding and even sympathising with individuals who I would typically dismiss without consideration.<br />“Stealing Picasso” soars from the fantastical dreams every art student harbours of achieving so much fame that a hush falls over a venue as they enter then plummeting to the gritty underbelly of Melbourne crime and corruption. The culmination is satisfying, if expected, but tainted with such abhorrent violence I almost didn’t finish the book. <br />“Stealing Picasso” is exquisitely written, full of unceasing conflict – black comedy at its finest. Although I can’t say I enjoyed reading it, I certainly do admire Cameron’s writing ability.<br />