In 1912, in Storyville, the notorious red-light district of New Orleans, a photographer named E.J. Bellocq took a series of photographs of the women who worked in the brothels. Rediscovered in the 1950s, Bellocq's photographs have become famous, but the man himself remains a mystery. In "Bellocq's Women", Peter Everett performs as remarkable a feat of fictional reconstruction as he did in "Matisse's War" and "The Voyages of Alfred Wallis". All we have of Bellocq are his photographs and a few fragmentary memories; in this extraordinary novel Everett not only brings the photographer to life - and with him his strange, tortured relationship with his mother and two young girls, one his landlady's daughter, the other a child whore - but also his world - the opium dens and bar rooms of New Orleans and the whore houses with their surreal combination of violence and homeliness.
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(198mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Everett's gift for fictionalizing the life of an artist to trace some of the tangled roots of creativity was shown in his last novel, The Voyages of Alfred Wallis. The hero of this new book is E.J. Bellocq, a photographer of whores in the brothels of Storyville, New Orleans, in the first decade of the 20th century. Unflinching in the face of deviant behaviour of all kinds (paedophilia, fetishism, masochism, rape, murder, to name but a handful), Everett finds little fountains of kindness and love in a wasteland of moral corruption. His hero, whose anguish remains to some extent opaque, is nevertheless portrayed as a sensitive well-meaning man who is more sympathetic than pathetic. The writing is tough and vivid, the imagination that powers it teemingly fertile. This is an admirably uncomfortable book by a fine and original writer. (Kirkus UK)
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