Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Painter of Blight

Currently, I'm reading Joan Didion's Where I Was From. It drags in places, but this memoir of her childhood in California-cum-Golden State trivia tidbit history lesson makes some interesting points. About Leland Stanford. About The Gold Rush. About the transcontinental railroad. And, surprisingly enough, even about my hometown, Hollister.

But easily my favorite part is Didion's description of Thomas Kinkade, the man who calls himself "the painter of light," and who became my hometown's neighbor in the past few years. Didion draw a parallel between Kinkade’s work and the apparently commonplace practice of glossing over California’s history of hardship with a sweeter, more idealized version of the actual events — kitsch in the Milan Kundera sense. But her description of the paintings themselves nails their utter shittiness better than I ever could.

Sayeth the Didion:
A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.
Perfect. She got it just fucking perfect. I’m quickly becoming enamored of this woman.

1 comment:

  1. I don't always agree with the what she puts into the book, but for the most part I enjoyed reading it, too. It was the first thing I read of Didion's.

    I think Faulkner has warped my mind.

    It was cool seeing you on Sunday. Sorry if I was distant; I'd just driven down to SB that day, and drove home right after I left the bookstore.

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