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Isadora: A Novel
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Published:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2017
Status:
Available from OverDrive
Description

Using the scaffolding of Isadora Duncan's life and the stuff of her spirit, Amelia Gray delivers an incredibly imaginative portrait of the artist
In 1913, the restless world sat on the brink of unimaginable suffering. But for one woman, the darkness of a new era had already made itself at home. Isadora Duncan would come to be known as the mother of modern dance, but in the spring of 1913 she was a grieving mother, after a freak accident in Paris resulted in the drowning death of her two young children.
The accident cracked Isadora's life in two: on one side, the brilliant young talent who captivated audiences the world over; on the other, a heartbroken mother spinning dangerously on the edge of sanity.
Isadora is a shocking and visceral portrait of an artist and woman drawn to the brink of destruction by the cruelty of life. In her breakout novel, Amelia Gray offers a relentless portrayal of a legendary artist churning through prewar Europe. Isadora seeks to obliterate the mannered portrait of a dancer and to introduce the reader to a woman who lived and loved without limits, even in the darkest days of her life.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/23/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374712587
ASIN:
B01MCUS72V
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Amelia Gray. (2017). Isadora: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Amelia Gray. 2017. Isadora: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Amelia Gray, Isadora: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Amelia Gray. Isadora: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:43:55
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Amelia Gray is the author of several books, including AM/PM, Museum of the Weird, THREATS, and Gutshot. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and is the winner of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest. She lives in Los Angeles.
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fullDescription

Using the scaffolding of Isadora Duncan's life and the stuff of her spirit, Amelia Gray delivers an incredibly imaginative portrait of the artist
In 1913, the restless world sat on the brink of unimaginable suffering. But for one woman, the darkness of a new era had already made itself at home. Isadora Duncan would come to be known as the mother of modern dance, but in the spring of 1913 she was a grieving mother, after a freak accident in Paris resulted in the drowning death of her two young children.
The accident cracked Isadora's life in two: on one side, the brilliant young talent who captivated audiences the world over; on the other, a heartbroken mother spinning dangerously on the edge of sanity.
Isadora is a shocking and visceral portrait of an artist and woman drawn to the brink of destruction by the cruelty of life. In her breakout novel, Amelia Gray offers a relentless portrayal of a legendary artist churning through prewar Europe. Isadora seeks to obliterate the mannered portrait of a dancer and to introduce the reader to a woman who lived and loved without limits, even in the darkest days of her life.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Ellie Robins, Los Angeles Times
      • content:

        "A great novel of character: the story of a real woman's real grief and survival . . . Gray's characters devour the world through their senses, a voracious, bodily quality that's a gift in writing the story of a woman for whom meaning began in the body . . . Though it uses gifts already apparent in Gray's work, Isadora also marks an evolution: Here, Gray's prose is enriched by a profound tenderness . . . Isadora is a heavenly celebration of women in charge of their bodies."

      • premium: False
      • source: Michael Schaub, NPR.org
      • content: "A stunning meditation on art and grief by one of America's most exciting young authors . . . Gray is a gutsy, utterly original writer, and this is the finest work she's done so far. Isadora is a masterful portrait of one of America's greatest artists, and it's also a beautiful reflection on what it means to be suffocated by grief, but not quite willing to give up."
      • premium: False
      • source: Josh Cook, The Washington Post
      • content: "[Gray's] sentences are painfully precise. Thrills come from telling gestures and original thoughts rather than plot twists . . . Isadora is so confounded by her fame and grief that she's in the dark about her own emotions, even as her expressive dances capture the world's attention. Gray portrays that great irony in heartbreaking detail and psychological acuity, her language hinging lyrical flight with wry directness . . ."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 27, 2017
        Gray follows her powerful 2015 short story collection Gutshot with an uneven novel about dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan. In 1913, at the peak of her career, Duncan’s children, six-year-old Deirdre and toddler Patrick, drown in the Seine when the car in which she has sent them home from a restaurant lunch plunges into the river. To assuage her grief and guilt—and avoid a clamoring public—Duncan, the children’s ashes in tow, departs Paris for Corfu, Turkey, Albania, and the Italian port of Viareggio. As she battles physical illness and mental collapse, she spends time with her brothers Augustin and Raymond; her sister, Elizabeth, who runs a school in Darmstadt based on Isadora’s methods; and legendary actress Eleonora Duse, among others. By the time she returns to France to dance again, she is forever changed, if not fully healed. Gray’s striking, sensual language is perfectly suited to her visionary protagonist, and the novel shimmers with memorable prose. But a surfeit of mundane moments narrated in the perspectives of secondary characters (including Elizabeth, her lover Max Merz, and Duncan’s lover, sewing machine heir Paris Singer) blunts its emotional power. Gray’s 2012 novel, Threats, used similarly brief, disjunctive segments to build toward a compelling whole; in contrast, Isadora spreads its attention too thin to fully capitalize on any of its narrative’s—or its author’s—rich possibilities.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2017
        Captivating historical fiction from the award-winning author of Threats (2012) and Museum of the Weird (2010).As the "mother of modern dance," Isadora Duncan pioneered a style of movement that released the body from the rigid discipline of ballet. Her choreography favored free-flowing movements designed to seem more like spontaneous expression than a practiced performance. At first, the feverish, practically Gothic voice that Gray invents for her protagonist seems an odd fit for a woman inspired by the simple lines and unadorned grace of classical art and architecture, but, as the reader goes deeper into Isadora's world, Gray's choice begins to make perfect sense. Duncan's modernism included the concept of the artist as rogue and celebrity--someone whose creativity demanded freedom from everyday norms. And, certainly, fate played a role in making Duncan extraordinary in life and in death. This novel begins when the dancer's two small children drown in the Seine, and early chapters depict Duncan's immediate reaction to this awful tragedy. To say that she is not restrained in her grieving would be a dramatic understatement, but it soon becomes clear that restraint simply is not part of her makeup. Gray's prose is over-the-top but utterly apt. Isadora's words are gorgeous even when they are grisly, and Gray does a terrific job of depicting not just the bereavement of a mother, but also the bereavement of a mother for whom life is a source of fuel for art. Gray also makes the canny choice to include other narrators, observers whose cooler viewpoints are expressed in the third person. Paris Singer, heir to his father's sewing-machine fortune and the father of her son, is the one who takes care of quotidian details while Isadora pursues her muse. And her sister, Elizabeth, is also an excellent foil. As the administrator of the schools founded by the dancer, Elizabeth depends upon Isadora. But, more than anyone, Elizabeth recognizes the performative aspect of Isadora's everyday existence. Together, these interwoven voices tell the story of a singular genius at one of the turning points of history, the moment when the promises of modernism give way to the first total war. A novel equal to its larger-than-life protagonist.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from April 15, 2017
        Historical novels about artists abound, but few attain the psychological intricacy, fluency of imagination, lacerating wit, or intoxicating beauty of Gray's tale of Isadora Duncan, the courageous mother of modern dance. Gray (Gutshot, 2015), known for her venturesome short stories, focuses on one traumatic year in Duncan's altogether dramatic life as a seductive dancer who scandalously rejected the rigidity of ballet to return to the essence of dance, performing her flowing choreography barefoot and in gossamer tunics. Isadora is in Paris in 1913, amid the dark stirrings of war, when her young daughter and son, along with their nanny, drown in a bizarre car accident. Gray's deeply inquisitive and empathic story of epic grief is composed of short, intense chapters expressing the divergent points of view of four contentious characters: extravagantly theatrical Isadora; her exceedingly wealthy and pragmatic lover, Paris Singer; her frustrated sister, Elizabeth, who teaches the radical Duncan method; and her fellow instructor, the ineptly scheming Max. As Isadora plunges into near madness, then slowly reclaims her artistic powers, Gray, performing her own extraordinary artistic leap, explores the nexus between body and mind, loss and creativity, love and ambition, and birth and death. The spellbinding result is a mythic, fiercely insightful, mordantly funny, and profoundly revelatory portrait of an intrepid and indelible artist.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2017

        A PEN/Faulkner and NYPL Young Lions finalist, Gray envisions Isadora Duncan not as a modern-dance genius but as a mother mourning the death of her two children. How does she keep performing?

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

Using the scaffolding of Isadora Duncan's life and the stuff of her spirit, Amelia Gray delivers an incredibly imaginative portrait of the artist
In 1913, the restless world sat on the brink of unimaginable suffering. But for one woman, the darkness of a new era had already made itself at home. Isadora Duncan would come to be known as the mother of modern dance, but in the spring of 1913 she was a grieving mother, after a freak accident in Paris resulted in the drowning death of her two young children.
The accident cracked Isadora's life in two: on one side, the brilliant young talent who captivated audiences the world over; on the other, a heartbroken mother spinning dangerously on the edge of sanity.
Isadora is a shocking and visceral portrait of an artist and woman drawn to the brink of destruction by the cruelty of life. In her breakout novel, Amelia Gray offers a relentless portrayal of a legendary artist churning through prewar Europe....

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      • description: FICTION / Performing Arts / Dance, Theater & Musicals