The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

Some thoughts about The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose (read the blurb here) –

01. This is easily one of the most original stories I’ve read. Ever.

02. At first I thought some of the writing was a little twee. Then I changed my mind – it’s lovely.

“When he was sixteen, his mother died. What do women who have drunk chamomile tea each night before bed, believed in invisible forces and played Chopin études before breakfast die of? A falling tree in a storm.”

03. This is art-lit but at a whole new level. It’s about performance, music, architecture, noise, silence, what constitutes art, what constitutes meaning, what evokes a reaction.

“I think art saves people all the time.”

04. This book is enhanced by some knowledge of Marina Abramovic’s vast body of work. I was fortunate to see a retrospective of her work at MONA a few years ago but short of that, good starting points can be found here, here and here. And when you’ve finished the book, this one.

05. There are so many themes in this book and Rose has pulled off the near impossible – it seems simple but it is in fact an incredibly complex story about love, grief, bravery and understanding what matters.

“…if I dare be so bold as to give advice – which I know men always hate – you should try with everything you have. I just hate seeing love go to waste.”

06. It might win the Stella Prize.

4.5/5 I’ll be thinking about this book for quite some time.

“She began spreading a sliver of toast on her plate with parfait. She bit into it and the toast crunched between her teeth. The texture hit the roof of her mouth, the flavour languid and creamy. She detected salmon, black caviar, sour cream, dill, black pepper.”




19 responses

  1. This hadn’t appealed to me at all, but you’ve convinced me into a complete U-turn and now I’m anxious to read it. I need to educate myself about Marina Abramovic first – thanks for the links!

  2. You sold me here: “This is art-lit but at a whole new level. It’s about performance, music, architecture, noise, silence, what constitutes art, what constitutes meaning, what evokes a reaction”

    Given my reading slump recently, I’ve been spending a lot more time delving into music. In fact, the only book I find myself reading these days is Murakami’s ABSOLUTELY ON MUSIC. I hadn’t heard about THE MUSEUM OF MODERN LOVE before reading this post, so thanks! I’m quite excited about this one 🙂

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  6. I’ve returned to your post after reading kimbofo’s and realised that this book is centred around Marina’s The Artist is Present performance.

    I saw the video featuring her former lover turning up to sit opposite her a while back. And her face has haunted me ever since.

    Thanks to you, Lisa and Kim, this book is now next on my TBR pile (I just have to finish my current Zola).

    • The video with her ex is amazing, particularly because Museum puts some detail around another project they worked on together, right before they separated- once you’ve finished reading the book, watch the video with the ex again. Amazing stuff that really takes literature to new level.

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