Monday, February 04, 2008
What's going on? I'm half way through Perez-Reverte's The Painter of Battles and I can barely get through it. Maybe I'm being finicky, but it's just not working for me. I get the idea of it. The premise is a war photographer, Andres Faulques, retires to a drab castle-like house on the coast of Spain. Instead of taking photographs, he begins to paint a mural of the history of war on his outside wall. With the sound of water crashing against the castle wall, the painter of battles (Perez-Reverte uses Faulques's name, but I enjoy writing and hearing 'the painter of battles') contemplates his color options, like using siena and blue to make black instead of using black itself. Then one day, a stranger appears. The painter of battles doesn't recognize this stranger, yet it is a man he photographed years ago. The photograph won a prestigious award and garnered the painter of battles fame and recognition. However, the photo sent the other man's life in a downward spiral. He appears and confronts the painter of battles and tells him he is going to kill him. They then spend evenings talking about life, death and the power of art. All the while, the painter of battles knows this man wants to kill him, but still he does not react to this. Is he withdrawn, resigned to his fate? It's like a Jim Jarmusch film. Two people in a cafe smoking cigarettes and speaking about their philosophy of life. It's just not enough to excite me. Blasphemy, I know. I'm not looking forward to my train ride tomorrow morning. Lunch is suddenly not looking too appetizing.