The Great Man by Kate Christensen
(Doubleday, 2007, 301 pages)
Oscar Feldman was an artist known for his arresting female nudes. After his death there are two biographers setting out to write biographies that portray the life of this “great man.” The primary subjects they interview are: Teddy (Oscar’s long-time mistress), Abigail (Oscar’s wife), and Maxine (Oscar’s sister who also happens to be an artist). The book is broken up into sections to portray the perspective each woman offers on Oscar’s life. We also get an interesting understanding of the man from the biographers themselves who have set out to write their books for their own unique reasons.
In spite of the fact that the story revolves around Oscar, the power of the women in his life is undeniable. Especially when you consider they’re all 70+ years old. Christensen did a great job with this book and I really enjoyed it. At first I thought I’d have a hard time relating to the characters based on their age and the things they were talking about, but I think they were all well-captured and Christensen’s way of discussing old age and the reality of death while reflecting back on youth was well done.