A Portrait of My Desire
by MacDonald Harris.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
From the Jacket:
"An exhilarating performance," said The New York Times Book Review of
MacDonald Harris' brilliantly entertaining Hemingway's Suitcase. Now
Harris returns with another virtuoso sleight of hand--a mysterious, sensual
puzzler. Like a painting that gradually reveals its true colors, the novel
surprises in subtle yet astonishing ways. No reader will be able
to predict which way this story will turn.
Harris sets his tale against the decadent eccentricities of a wealthy California
beach community. At the center is Harry, a handsome gallery owner, an
epicurean lover of all things beautiful, a man who counted his
late wife among his most valuable possessions. When he hires Velda Venn,
an unsophisticated yet powerfully sexual housekeeper, the order of his
exquisite household is gradually subverted. Like the pull of the ocean waves
outside his window, Velda draws Harry from calm self-absorption
to erotic obsession. He must possess her--and a spectacular painting
that changes everything, a painting that seems the very mirror of his strange,
Critical Acclaim for A Portrait of My Desire:
- "MacDonald Harris is a master of the American Novel. This year or next
year, you won't read a novel as engrossing or technically skillful of this.
This fable of the destruction of a man by his passion for a woman and a
painting is to be read at a gulp and at the same time savored, for the clarity
of its action and its transparent, delicious writing. It is wonderful
to see such a fine novelist so utterly on his game. A Portrait of
My Desire is a wonder and a delight."
Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List
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