Is This It?

Most of these stories were originally written as texts for artists' catalogs, and photographic reproductions of art—a word-drawing by Roni Horn, a porcelain Michael Jackson statue by Jeff Koons, a "Think like us" poster by Barbara Kruger—punctuate the collection. The relation between the stories and the art is usually not illustrational, but there are some points of contact: "Dead Sleep," a story about not being able to sleep and then sleeping too much, is paired with a dimly lit photograph by Dolores Marat that, in this context, seems to depict a pillow, cocoon, or body bag; "Flowers," paired with Vik Muniz's image of a freesia, is actually a series of unexceptionable negative statements about flowers ("Flowers are not satan . . . Flowers are not water").

Reality used to be a friend of mine: fictioneer Lynne Tillman.
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Reality used to be a friend of mine: fictioneer Lynne Tillman.

Details

This Is Not It
By Lynne Tillman
D.A.P., 287 pp., $27.50
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Nor does the writing critique the art directly, although Madame Realism converses with the Koons figures, and also appears to be the subject of a Kiki Smith portrait. In general, the characters don't have access to art: Their world includes some forms of culture (television, books), but almost no photography, sculpture, painting, or drawing. (For that matter, there aren't any reproductions of paintings; Tillman prefers photography and installation.) The art is necessary only because it inspires Tillman to write. But the stories' concerns are quite distant from those of contemporary art, where realism is a dirty word, if not quite a dead issue.

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