On Saturday, April 16, novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff gave a reading at Chevy Chase bookstore Politcs and Prose. I like that store, but I admit that I don't get there very often because it's so far away from me. We have her first novel, The Frequency of Souls (reviewed by Maud Casey at Salon), which Mrs. Ionarts has read but I am just starting. (It won both the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the James Jones First Novel Award.) Mary Kay read from her new novel, The Bowl Is Already Broken, and I was interested enough by the author's introduction to decide to read the book myself. It's about an Asian art specialist, and the book is chock full of historical information, so I will probably enjoy it. We bought a copy, to be sure, because Mary Kay, who lives here in Washington, is my wife's friend. I don't have much more to say about the book, since I haven't read it, but I can direct you to someone who has. Here is a review (Odd people mess up in a museum, April 17) by Irina Reyn in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The precious, ancient Chinese bowl breaks not only in the title, but in the very first chapter of Mary Kay Zuravleff's ambitious, sprawling second novel, "The Bowl Is Already Broken." The novel opens as horrified onlookers witness the curator of an ailing museum drop his own beloved acquisition, which smashes into tiny fragments. The mishap is at the heart of this winsome novel with a serious message -- if loss is embedded in our everyday realities, then we must live as though the bowl is already broken.I will say that I was intrigued by Mary Kay's comments about what is happening to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, which she said is "becoming like a shopping mall." Is it really possible that, in the not too distant future, a part of the underground museum space of the Freer and Sackler Galleries could become a food court? Sadly, that might have actually appealed to someone somewhere.
If you are in Washington and would like to hear Mary Kay Zuravleff read from her new book yourself, she will be appearing next on Tuesday, May 17, at 7 pm, at the Freer Gallery of Art, where she used to work and which is the inspiration for the Asian art museum in her book. She will be a lot of other places, too, over the next few months.
See also the review by Jonathan Yardley, A Museum Row (Washington Post, May 3).