Review: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

The Museum of Modern Love is one of those books. You know the ones. They come with a precedent. Glowing reviews from a wide range of trusted sources. Award wins and nominations, including the Stella Prize. And no matter which bookshop I went to, every last copy was sold out. Eventually, I found a copy at Big W (of all places,) brought it home and felt a little too scared to read it. What were the odds of it living up to all of the hype. What if I didn't enjoy it? Was I even buying and reading this book for the right reasons, or was I reading it just to be a part of the in-crowd? Eventually, I picked my copy up and started to read ...

It turns out that The Museum of Modern love is one of those books that works on a couple of levels. On the one hand, it is the story of Arky Levin, a middle-aged composer living in New York whose wife has become seriously ill, and how he becomes fascinated by The Artist is Present, a performance art piece at the Museum of Modern Art, and how this performance helps him to heal and make the right choices for his wife. It is a novel about the commitment that Arky makes to his wife and what that really means. We can also say that it is the story of several other loosely related characters and how, they too, are they are affected by The Artist is Present. On the other hand, it's also a fictionalised account of performance artist Marina Abramovic and offers a biography of the woman whose performance art is often dramatic, controversial and often misunderstood.

At it's core, however, The Museum of Modern Love is a demonstration of the sheer power that art has on our every day lives. Through watching Abramovic, each of the characters are forced to look inside themselves--for Arky, it becomes a question of whether he should obey his wife's wishes, or override them if he knows that deep down, the latter might be what she truly wants. 

I enjoyed this one immensely, in particular, the meditations on the healing power of art. I think that it is a bit of a subjective book, and different readers may come away having learned a different lesson, even if they enjoyed it as much as I did.


This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017


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