The Correspondence Artist

By Barbara Browning

Vivian, a writer and single mother living in New York, finds herself involved with an internationally famous, intensely charismatic art star. As the affair progresses, she begins to narrate the story of their not-quite-love by quoting her correspondence. But who is the recipient of Vivian's affection and emails? It depends on which version of Vivian's story you prefer. She describes her lover, variously, as a Nobel Prize-winning Israeli novelist named Tzipi, a Vietnamese enfant terrible video artist named Binh, a Basque separatist activist named Santuxto, and a Malian rock star named Djeli. This kaleidoscopic approach allows Vivian to maintain an ironic remove from her seduction, her disappointments and triumphs, and even her heartbreak, but it also grants the reader an intimate glimpse at the soul of a relationship, rendered more vividly universal due to being partially obscured.

Barbara Browning has a PhD from Yale in comparative literature. She teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She's also a poet and a dancer, and the author of our November pick, I'm Trying To Reach You.

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The Correspondence Artist
The Correspondence Artist