Reading this powerful novel feels as if you fell into a dazzling linguistic museum. Written by Andrew Winer, an artist himself, The Marriage Artist is the most protean American novel in the last fifty years. When art critic Daniel Lichtmann learns of the double “suicide” of his wife with Benjamin Wind, an artist he had known and reviewed, he finds himself searching from Vienna to New York City to California to understand why. In one scene Lichtmann and his wife visit Wind’s chilling installation, and you are struck by the emotional description of what happens to the couple: Wind’s art breathlessly stuns them.
“The Marriage Artist is really about this soul-searching journey a man takes after his wife and the artist he championed are found dead together,” said Winer in an extensive personal interview with Act Two. “It’s about a man who wants to solve not only the mystery of these two deaths, but the mystery of love and marriage, the meaning of our lives in the midst of events large and small. The man’s journey changes the way he thinks about art, love, religion and death.” In the process Winer’s novel ascends with every word, every sentence, every narrative change, an artist’s eye, a writer’s dream. It breathlessly stuns us by the grandeur, soul and fluency in the author’s aesthetic prose.
“A novelist tries to find the form, the vehicle that will allow the fullest expression of what’s preoccupying her or him consciously and unconsciously,” added Winer. “As I began to write The Marriage Artist, those preoccupations included love, the meaning of art, the irrationality and blind necessity of history, matters of faith and family, what connects people across time, and how we grapple with life’s brevity. I wanted to write about love, faith, what we owe each other, our struggle for purpose and permanence.” Finally, though, The Marriage Artist is also a sensory experience; it will leave you trembling with admiration, almost as if you spent a week in New York City museums, sweetly exhausted but deeply enriched by the painted words of an author artist.
By Mark Damon Puckett