Modern Art

(Fiction; Delphinium Books, 2000)

In the opening pages of Modern Art, two graduate students interview an old woman, Belle Prokoff, a painter who is far better known for having been the wife of Clay Madden, a legend in American art and a figure whose memory Belle guards fiercely. Belle is at once dismissive of the young women and threatened by them; she “moves her hands stealthily in her lap, to ease the pain” of her arthritis, lest they see also the unbearable pain of her years with Madden, his drinking, his abusive neglect, and the degree to which she is still trapped as the curator of his legacy. The reader simultaneously wishes the girls would leave poor Belle alone and reads faster to see if Belle will indeed answer their questions.

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