September 23, 2007 |
AFTER his famous journey to the East, so the story goes, Marco Polo is booked on a lecture tour to the United States. In Texas, the first question he gets is: "What do you think of Houston, Mr. Polo?" American exceptionalism. American self-absorption. The blindness to other cultures, other kinds of pride, other ways to fight for them. That blindness has ludicrously skewed our recent efforts to shape the world (in order to sculpt, you need to see).
July 23, 2006 |
IN this sharp, finely crafted collection, Valerie Martin, author of the novels "Property" and "Mary Reilly," leaves behind the historical to peer into the lives of modern-day artists -- painters, writers, dancers and actors. At once psychologically insightful and playful, Martin here strips away the romantic notions of the artist and satirizes the art world: An artist sleeps with a gallery owner to get a show and, when he becomes famous, paints imitations of his own work.
June 5, 2003 |
American writer Valerie Martin has won the Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel "Property." The Orange Prize is given to the best English-language novel by a female writer and carries an award of $40,000. The book, about a plantation owner's wife in the American South, takes place in the 1820s. It was described in a Salon review as "a ferociously honest book" about black-white relations and slavery.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 10, 2001 |
It's a small building, really, nothing more than a one-room chapel, of simple construction. For hundreds of years, supplicants and pellegrini--the Italian word for pilgrims--have flocked to this place, called the Portiuncula, on the plains below Assisi, at the base of Mt. Subasio. They touch its doors, bend in prayer in front of its altar and honor Francesco di Pietro Bernardone, the man who died there in October 1226 and was canonized as a Catholic saint less than two years later.
July 23, 1999 |
The young American woman touched and transformed by the beguilements of Italy is a staple of American letters. In earlier generations, the prototype, displaying pluck and innocence, defied convention and often ended badly, disgraced or dead (think of Edith Wharton's "Roman Fever" or Henry James' "Daisy Miller"); nowadays she is older, more experienced, more careful--rather like her native land--but Italy retains the power to shake her up nevertheless.
March 27, 1994 |
Valerie Martin's "The Great Divorce" is the kind of fiction that can briefly refocus and broaden the scope of what we notice about the world. Not long after finishing the novel, I found myself paying rapt attention to a TV advertisement for a collection of videotapes that seemed made up of scenes of snarling jungle creatures ripping each other to shreds. "Find out why we call them animals," droned the portentous voice-over.