The Kept Man

by

The Kept Man

Author: Jami Attenberg

Title: The Kept Man

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages:294

Geographical Setting: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.

Time Period: Present day (approximately 2007)

Series (If applicable): None

Plot Summary: Jarvis Miller’s husband is a moderately famous painter who has been in a coma for the last six years. Jarvis is devoted to Martin’s care and maintaining his artistic legacy but otherwise floats through her days, wandering through her Brooklyn neighborhood in a haze of depression. When Jarvis befriends a group of men, all similarly idle with powerful wives who provide for them financially, she begins to emerge from her isolation. As Jarvis reengages with the world she stumbles onto her husband’s secret life and artwork, kept from her by her husband’s best friend. Jarvis is forced to reassess her past relationship with her husband and make the difficult decisions that will force her to move forward in her life.

Subject Headings: Marriage, Infidelity, Betrayal, Grief, Modern Art, Painting, Euthanasia, Coma Patients, Brooklyn,

Appeal: Closely observed, introspective, eccentric, detailed setting, urban, bittersweet, emotionally-charged, contemplative, accessible, conversational.

3 terms that best describe this book: Character Centered, Urban, Engaging.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The American Painter Emma Dial: a novel by Samantha Peele. A debut novel from the former assistant to artist Jeff Koons, this book focuses on the working and romantic relationship between a painter and his assistant. Through a relationship with another artist, Emma manages to break away from her mentor and lover and reignites her own career in the art world.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. A private detective with tourette’s syndrome solves searches for his boss’s killer in this mystery novel. The borough of Brooklyn is so clearly realized that it becomes almost as much a character in the novel as the protagonist.

The Women by T.C. Boyle. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s many marriages and affairs with women are explored in this fictionalized version of his personal and working life. An interesting look into the personal life of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated artists.

Three Relevant Nonfiction Books

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson. This book looks at the contemporary art world through the lens of economics. The author examines the interconnected worlds of art dealers, auction houses, art galleries and museums to see how the art world has created an environment that can support works such as Damien Hirst’s titular shark.

The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up: A True Story by Rich Blake. Blake recounts the story of a firefighter who spent more than ten years in a vegetative state to awake from his coma and reconnect with friends and family for a short time before relapsing.

The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn edited by Kenneth T. Jackson and John B. Manbeck. This book looks at the history of the borough including brief histories of each of the ninety neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is profiled in a brief essay and maps are included to familiarize readers with the monuments and boundaries of the neighborhoods.

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