I just finished reading Sarah Lane’s novel,”The God of my Art.” We first meet the protagonist Helene in June 2001. She is 21. She meets her Muse Matthew through a mutual friend Christine. Christine and Matthew are both members of a University Mountain Rock climbing club.Matthew is older 23. He becomes a brief romantic entanglement for Christine. After this relationship ends She spends much time pondering him-and she takes us along for the ride.
Sarah Lane separates her novel into three stages using the primary colors of Red, Blue and Yellow. This is very creative and fitting for a book about a young artist’s journey.Each color also invokes moods; Red is passion, Blue as sorrow and disappointment and Yellow as Growth and new beginnings. Then each section is also divided into chapters. I do not wish to include a synopsis or any spoilers.
This was a fun and engaging read for me personally as an artist. However there are some parts of her book I would like to draw attention to because I felt they were very well written.On page 95 Helene is musing that (she feels),” A life without art seems like no life at all, and every single day that I don’t create in some way seems not fully lived.” She ponders further about not wanting to become just another starving artist. This inner conflict is the undercurrent throughout this novel.It is a conflict way too familiar to many artists.
Later on pg 160, Helene ponders Nietzche, “Whoever fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster.And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.”She was introduced to his writing via her muse Matthew.As she thinks over this quote she reflects,”What difference can art make, anyway?” Finally near the end of the novel this inner conflict almost seems resolved as Helene states,on pg 173,” Once, I prove myself as an artist, as a lover, and as a woman-events will be remembered differently, the fractured landscapes of my life will reveal their significance and everything will come together in a meaningful whole.”
I found Helene’s journey to be similar to that of a Mythical Greek Hero of Greek Tragedy or Comedy. It is a Everyman’s saga. It is a Hero’s journey, but mostly it is an Artist’s journey. It begs of the Reader, the question of Why Art? And then the only natural evolution of this question becomes why not Art?
The Author is very successful in drawing the reader in to that place of mind and heart young persons experience in their early 20’s. The only criticism, I could possible have is in a few seldom places there is an undercurrent of teen angst-but that is very truthful to that stage of young adulthood too.
Overall, I found this to be a wonderful coming of age tale that I could really relate too. Ms.Lane is a very talented storyteller. I highly suggest this book to anyone with a passion for life and a passion for art.