Coverart for item
The Resource The ecliptic, Benjamin Wood

The ecliptic, Benjamin Wood

Label
The ecliptic
Title
The ecliptic
Statement of responsibility
Benjamin Wood
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
The arrival of haunted seventeen-year-old artist Fullerton shatters the hermetic peace at one of the world's most exclusive artist colonies, prompting Scottish painter Knell to search for answers and confront the realities of her own past
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Young Scottish painter Elspeth Conroy creates a stir in the London world with work that is edgy, even frightening. But the paintings she subsequently produces for her first solo show are more dogged than inspired, no matter how hard she works. So she seeks rejuvenation at Portmantle, an isolated refuge for artists on an island off the coast of Turkey, where residents shed their worldly identities with new names and work to recapture their muses and sense of purpose. Elspeth, known as Knell, bonds with playwright MacKinney, novelist Quickman, and architect Pettifer, and the four of them are charged with welcoming 17-year-old Fullerton, the youngest person ever to be admitted to Portmantle. But when things go horribly wrong, Knell is compelled to act despite the jeopardy she will face. Elspeth is such a fully realized character that readers will share her struggles as she labors to regain her artistic vision and reaches out to her therapist and friend, Victor Yail, for help. In incisive prose, Wood (The Bellwether Revivals, 2012) explores how the human mind deals with the arduous work of creating art. A stunning novel, likely to linger long in the reader’s memory. -- Leber, Michele (Reviewed 3/15/2016) (Booklist, vol 112, number 14, p20)
  • Wood (The Bellwether Revivals) offers an intimate portrait of an artist in his second novel, illuminated by reflections on creativity and the creative process. The first of four parts begins on an island off the coast of Istanbul. Narrator Knell and three companions welcome a strange teenage boy to Portmantle, the island’s sanctuary for gifted individuals seeking lost inspiration. Knell’s companions include a playwright, an architect, and Quickman, the famed author of an iconic novel. They all use pseudonyms, but the teenager recognizes Knell as Scottish painter Elspeth Conroy. Knell/Elspeth recalls her early years, prompted by the boy’s troubled manner. The second section flashes back to Knell/Elspeth’s rise from painter’s assistant to toast of the 1960s London’s art scene, a career complicated by prescription drugs, conflict with her inner critic, and a disastrous encounter with an actual critic who writes a scathing review. Seeking solace from a friendly psychiatrist, in a secluded Scottish cottage, and finally at Portmantle, Knell/Elspeth struggles to capture on canvas the ecliptic: an imaginary line delineating the sun’s arc across the sky, a scientific construct invented to capture a complex truth. In the third section, she attempts a daring escape from the island, painting in tow. The last section, “Clarity,” separates construct from complexity, surprising both artist and reader. With its architectural structure, dramatic pacing, enthralling plot, and lush landscapes, Wood’s novel features beautifully written, meticulously perceived observations about art and artists. It may not be note perfect, as Quickman’s novel is described, but like Quickman’s, it is unusual and disquieting. (May) --Staff (Reviewed 03/07/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 10, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ This book's title derives from a perceived frame of reference, the plane of the ecliptic, and the tale indeed is an act of reframing. The narrator is a seemingly older woman painter who goes by the code name Knell. As the story opens, Knell welcomes a new arrival, a youth called Fullerton, to a secretive and anonymous artists retreat on a Turkish island where residents presumably go to rediscover their muse. They form a close circle of artists living a largely proscribed and subsidized existence, and as Fullerton fails to fit in, the narrative turns dark. The novel then moves to a flashback sequence illustrating the origin of Knell, who is the artist Elspeth Conroy "in real life." As the picture of Elspeth's past is more fully painted, the connection to the seeming present becomes less tenuous and then breaks apart completely. VERDICT Wood creates a foundational narrative and then turns it inside out in a feat of recontextualizing that may leave readers reeling. The novel combines a historic feeling of artistic possibility reminiscent of Joyce Carey's The Horse's Mouth with an experience of waking up from a tragic hallucinatory dream. Highly recommended for readers who like surprises. [See Prepub Alert, 11/23/15.] --Henry Bankhead (Reviewed 05/15/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 9, p75)
  • A rising star of the late-1950s London art scene looks to recover her lost muse and finds herself in a secretive refuge for similarly frustrated creative types. At the Portmantle artists' retreat on an island off the coast of Istanbul, painter Elspeth Conroy and three friends—novelist, playwright, architect—greet the latest arrival, 17-year-old Fullerton. To these veterans of the refuge, the annoying young man is smart, dismissive, and evasive, not even revealing his craft. He also suffers from terrible spells, but before his fate is revealed, this zigzagging story flashes back to Elspeth's apprenticeship and breakthrough and rapid disenchantment with her work, tied to a mural for a planetary observatory in which the ecliptic concept stymies her design. The death of her favorite teacher brings what seems like a chance reunion with her first mentor, who believes the cure for her artistic paralysis lies at Portmantle. The novel moves back to the Turkish island, where Elspeth doesn't like the way Fullerton is treated, falls afoul of the retreat's provost, and embarks on a dangerous flight from the island. Or does she? Wood (The Bellwether Revivals, 2012) could thrill or anger readers with his final dose of narrative whiplash. Along the way, his look at the art market is deft but limited and unsurprising. He does have strong passages where he suggests the vital, elusive nature of artistic inspiration—and how a real artist knows when she is working with less. Wood leaves ambiguous the source for what may be Elspeth's most important work. Or does he? An almost empty bottle of the antidepressive Tofranil complicates matters. The British novelist makes his aesthetic interests more palatable for a general reader with some intrigue and structural tricks and a kick-in-the-head kicker that would galvanize book clubs.(Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2016)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10461292
Cataloging source
YDXCP
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1981-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Wood, Benjamin
Dewey number
813
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6123.O524
LC item number
E35 2016
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Women painters
  • Artists
  • Artist colonies
Target audience
adult
Label
The ecliptic, Benjamin Wood
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
470 pages
Isbn
9781594206863
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 918284257
  • (OCoLC)918284257
Label
The ecliptic, Benjamin Wood
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
470 pages
Isbn
9781594206863
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 918284257
  • (OCoLC)918284257

Library Locations

    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
Processing Feedback ...