Be sure to grab a new copy of this month’s reading group selection: Being Here Is Everything: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker by Marie Darrieussecq (translated by Penny Hueston).
The Book Beat reading group will meet Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 @7:00PM at Goldfish Tea Cafe, located at 117 W. Fourth Street in Downtown Royal Oak. All are welcome.
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First published in France in 2016, Being Here Is So Much traces the short, obscure, and prolific life of the German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907). In a brief career, cut short by her death from an embolism at the age of thirty-one, shortly after she gave birth to a child, Modersohn-Becker trained in Germany, traveled often to Paris, developed close friendships with the sculptor Clara Westhoff and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and became one of her generation’s preeminent artists, helping introduce modernity to the twentieth century alongside such other painters as Picasso and Matisse.
Paula Modersohn-Becker was the first woman to paint a naked self-portrait – and while apparently pregnant, at that – in 1906. She worked at fever pitch, bemoaning the waste of her first two decades and producing in her penultimate summer a painting every four or five days. Regularly described as an expressionist, her portraits don’t look like anything or anyone else. Her women are crude and exact, glowing with strange colours: Balthus as a feminist, Gauguin by way of The Dark Crystal. She died in 1907 at the age of 31, having sold three paintings in her lifetime, leaving behind a forest of letters and diaries. Review at The Guardian
Marie Darrieussecq was born in 1969 in Bayonne, France. Her debut novel, Pig Tales was published in thirty-four countries. Five other novels have also been translated into English including A Brief Stay with the Living, Tom Is Dead and All the Way. Marie Darrieussecq lives in Paris with her husband and children.
Penny Hueston is a Senior Editor at Text Publishing and a translator of novels, stories, articles, and poems, including works by Marie Darrieussecq and 2014 Nobel Prize winner, Patrick Modiano.