The quote of the week comes from the best of this week’s three books, The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman (2008).
I’ll end as I began: with a confession. I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be, a genius. Odds are, neither are you. I feel obligated to point this out, both because it has taken me a while to understand my own limitations and because these days we’ve gotten the idea into our heads that every person has infinite potential. The briefest spell of sober reflection reveals this to be a gentle lie, designed to cradle those with low self-esteem.
Ordinariness is nothing to be ashamed of. It carries no moral weight. I don’t believe that geniuses are worth more in some cosmic Blue Book. They are worthy of more attention, of course, because they’re so rare – one in a million, or rarer. What that means for the rest of us is that someone has to be the first of the remaining 999.999 souls; and the higher up you are, the closer you are to the genius’s vantage point.
To pursue that – to clamber up – to stretch out fingertips in the hopes of grazing the surface – can you imagine a more uniquely modern aspiration? A better metaphor for our oversaturated era than the desire to be president of the fan club? The hero for the age is Boswell…
Bit of a genius himself is Kellerman, and yes a US writer. The Guardian preview notes:
Faye and Jonathan Kellerman are both bestselling thriller writers, but it seems that their greatest contribution to the genre could be their son, Jesse, whose latest psychological drama is as startlingly original as his first two. This author, already an award-winning playwright, has no need of blood and bullets to build tension; he knows exactly which buttons to push to keep readers anxiously engaged – even when the plot apparently involves nothing more sinister than a New York art gallery owner, Ethan Muller, who discovers a cache of brilliant but disturbing drawings by a mysterious artist who has since disappeared. Kellerman writes with grace and style, and shows nimble creative footwork when long-buried secrets about Ethan’s own family begin to break through the fictions carefully constructed by people who want the past to remain somewhere else.
“An essential read for all, The Brutal Art is the best thriller I’ve read in years.” That’s Civilian Reader’s view. I would agree. Definitely a best read of 2009.
From Jesse Kellerman’s site (linked above):
Who are some of your favorite writers?
This is a very partial list that follows no particular order.
Both the Bible and the Bab
Two more book reviews to come…