Paul Auster, what do you think? Did you write this book to see how good your prose has got ? Was it an arrogant attempt to have some fun with your words? Style over substance? You had some harsh critics at the Kensal Review. Quite a few readers felt irritated, offended even, by the second person narrative in the middle section. Others, myself included, enjoyed the challenge of a new reading experience. Bruce pointed out Auster was not just trying to be clever. The structure emphasised the deeper thematic issues the novel deals with: truth and memory.
Invisible is a page-turner. The story romps along beautifully, all agreed. Ian and a few others however, felt strongly that the female characters lacked conviction. They seemed weak, two-dimensional, unbelievable. The central character Adam Walker split opinion by appealing to most women but male readers finding him somewhat lily-livered and annoying. And as for whether he slept with his sister or not - crucially, no one really cared.
And what about the breaking up of rocks at the very end? Theories were plentiful. A chain gang working in a prison camp... Dissonance to depict a soundtrack of truth and memory... A way of making the reader think 'Ooh something clever is going on - but what is it?' Despite disparate interpretations, the closing section was very visible to us all.
Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy got a right pounding. A visit to an S&M dungeon would have inflicted less pain on the curators had they been present. From the moment you walk into the show and are confronted with the replica of the Cenotpah By Sir Edwin Lutyens, confusion sets in. Where does the show begin? Oh this is the show. Ok, let's see... We were didactically introduced to sculptures from the British Museum which had influenced modern sculptors in the second room, and then BOOM: Epstein's penis, I mean Adam. I loved watching visitors catch a glimpse of the alabaster tackle. Whilst others looked on from afar, I went right up to the beast - slapped joyously to one side at eye level - and inspected it. The penis, and the Adam that goes with it, really is a marvelous creation. You can feel Adam's power and that of nature oozing from the sculpture as if a living, breathing entity were about to burst out of the stone.
Barbara Hepworth's breathtaking Three Forms got a big up from all. It was interesting to see how ancient Chinese ceramics had been of influence. Having said that, various rooms elicited disdain in the way they were curated. The further the Kensal Review crew walked towards the present day, the more scratching of heads was seen. What is this? How is a photograph a sculpture? Really Damien, is that all you got? The second to last room elicited the most blank looks and people reacted in a manner of ways: interest, revulsion, confusion, anger, frustration and contempt. When you think about, not a bad outcome to feel so much when looking at art, regardless of the outcome.
So maybe, just maybe, we can take a little of our venom back and think, 'So the curating was a bit GCSE, but we all got something out of it. Even if that 'it' was a sore head from too much scratching.