Monday, October 20, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Painting the Wild Frontier


Reich, Susanna. 2008. Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin.

I was not that familiar with George Catlin prior to reading Painting the Wild Frontier. (Though I had a vague recollection that he was a painter of Native Americans in the nineteenth century.) The book was informative and well-written. Reich was not afraid to ask the difficult questions. Catlin was not a saint. And while his work is important (in many ways) the issue of whether or not his work was exploitative of American Indians cannot be ignored. His belief system can't be ignored. Just how did the man feel about his subjects? Did he see them as his ticket to fame and fortune? A way to make a buck? How sympathetic was he to the plight of the American Indians? Just what was he setting out to accomplish?

George Catlin's life in many ways was tragic. He never quite reached his goals. He never had enough money or enough fame or enough prestige. He enjoyed a bit of success, but then he fell out of the spotlight and was never quite able to get it back. Catlin was a selfish man. His obsession with his work, his career kept him from being a good husband and kept him from being a good father. I would say it even kept him from being a fair husband and father. His neglect and disinterest in his family is disturbing in many ways.

Reich's book acknowledges Catlin's strengths and weaknesses. It is a flawed portrait of a man that Reich shares with her readers. A very human one.

The book itself is nicely done. It includes some black and white work and some full-color ones as well. For those interested in the back matter--it is well researched. There are end notes for each chapter, a time line, a selected bibliography, and an index.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

"Confuzzled" Shannon 11:30 AM  

It's shame it seems to be a good or "famous" artist or writer has always be hard on the regular life because they have to focus on the job to get famous. Guess that is why I will never be famous with my art I like my family life too much. lol

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP