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Theft: A Love Story

by Peter Carey

Butcher Bones was a celebrated artist until his divorce and a spell in prison. He is reduced to acting as unpaid caretaker at the house of one of his collectors in the wilds of New Sourth Wales until femme fatale, Marlene, appears at the door. What follows is a romp through the corrupt world of modern art taking in an examination of love, provincialism and money along the way. The chief delights of this book lie in the energetic language and sibling rivalry and jealousy revealed by the two narrators. Butcher tells us his 'damaged 220 -pound brother' Hugh is none too smart but we soon learn he is more likely to tell us the truth.

Extract

I cannot blame Hugh - that would be ridiculous - nor can I equate myself with Van Gogh. Just the same I am entitled to make the point that it was Vincent's saintly brother Theo who brought an end to sixty days of painting in Auvers-sur-Oise. You can find three thousand art books filled with bad reproductions and as many dull opinions that the sixty paintings from those sixty days were a 'final flowering' and the crows in Vincent's wheatfield were a 'clear sign' he was about to kill himself. But fuck me Jesus, a crow is just a bird and Vincent was alive, and there were crows and wheat in front of him and he was producing a canvas every day. He was as mad as a toilet brush - why not? - and as boring as a painter, and Dr Gachet may not have actually invited his patient to come and live with him, but painters do these things, so suck it up.

Parallels

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary
 

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