Monday, March 19, 2012

We Bury the Landscape by Kristine Ong Muslim

Genre:  Ekphrasis (the fictional story behind the painting)
Expected publication date:  April 15, 2012

Description (taken from Kristine Ong Muslim's website):
We Bury the Landscape is an exhibition of literary art. Ekphrasis, collected. One hundred flash fictions and prose poems presented to view. From the visual to the textual, transmuting before the gallery-goer’s gaze, the shifting contours of curator Kristine Ong Muslim’s surreal panorama delineate the unconventional, the unexpected, and the unnatural. Traversing this visionary vista’s panoply of “rooms of unfinished lives,” the reader unearths and examines and reanimates—revealing the transcendent uncanniness that subsists underfoot.

Doesn't the description catch your interest?  This book is definitely one of a kind, and I believe everyone should have the chance to read it and see the paintings that the stories are based off of.  With that being said, this book is not a novel.  It is not something you sit down and enjoy in one sitting (although you very well can do this).  This is a coffee table novel that your guests look at (and in my case, wonder how on earth I became so artistically-inclined), kind of like a poetry book or a picture book.

Note that the art is contemporary art (and it's a kind I sit and wonder how on earth the artist came up with it).  So I recommend looking at the art before you read the stories because they make more sense when you see what the story's based off of.

I thought I'd list a few themes from the stories to give you an idea of what you can look forward to.  We go from various fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk or the Princess and the Frog to nursery rhymes like Humpty Dumpty.  There's one story that reminds me very much of The Metamorphosis and the painting is creepy.  We've also got Gucci handbags, a Volkswagon, a carnivorous flower, instruments writhing in pain, and it's raining men.  And one story that I can relate to: one with tons of goldfish in the room.  Now why can I relate to this?  Call me crazy, but I've had a dream (more than once) where my bettas decided to rebel against me and plot my demise.  So, yes my fish scare me...

If you like artistic paintings, then you'll most definitely like reading this book.  However, I think even the non-visually-artistically inclined could enjoy this book as well (I fall in this category).

Thanks goes to Kristine Ong Muslim for providing me a review copy of this book.

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