In The Great Man, the loopiest art-world novel since John Updike’s notably loopy 2002 book Seek My Face, two competing biographers dig into the life of a painter who did only female nudes. The main action involves them sitting around talking to the women in the artist’s life — his sister Maxine, for instance, a painter in her own right who ”used her body as a source of light and heat, a high-speed muscle car that needed periodic pit stops to refuel and regenerate.” Right. You may discover some droll bits of drawing-room comedy in Kate Christensen’s fourth book, but that will involve venturing, machete in hand, through a jungle of overripe prose.
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