Sometimes I wonder if I had known that it was going to take me fourteen years to paint this painting of the Crucifixion, and what it would take for me to paint it, would I have been as happy as I was then?’
Susan Alison MacLeod, a Glasgow School of Art graduate with a dark sense of humour, first lays eyes on Douglas MacDougall at a party in 1988, and resolves to put him on the cross in the Crucifixion painting she’s been sketching out, but her desire for authenticity in her portrayal of suffering means that the painting doesn’t see the light of day for fourteen years.
Over the same years, Douglas’ ever-more elaborately designed urine-filled plastic bags bring him exponentially increasing fame, prizes and commissions, while his modelling for Susan Alison, who continues to work pain and suffering on to the canvas, takes place mostly in the shadows. This Good Book is a wickedly funny, brilliantly observed novel that spins the moral compass and plays with notions of creating art.
PUBLISHED BY RENARD PRESS
This is a more than a good book! This is a very good book! And so unique! I wondered how I’d get on with the Scottish dialect and slang, alongside a look at the art world, but it works surprisingly well and it’s one of those stories that can shock just as much as make you laugh! And it made me laugh a lot with the darkness and pointed look at the pretentiousness of what is perceived as art nowadays.
Susan is at the heart of the story, she’s an art school grad and when Douglas came into her life, she decided he was the perfect ‘model’ for her art creation representing the Crucifixion. But there’s always something holding her back in being completely satisfied with what she’s creating and the years fly by and still no completed work.
In the meantime, Douglas hits the art world with his own unique brand of art using bags of urine!! And he gets huge critical acclaim and success, whilst Susan struggles along in the background with her more ‘normal’ artwork. Their friendship never fails to waiver and they seem to just get one another, despite success taking Douglas away more and more. The banter between them makes the story as it’s so raw and honest and I loved the way their conversations would flow about everything and nothing! The serious to the fun.
The way that Douglas infuriates her but intoxicates her in equal measures is at the heart of the story for me – seeing him sail along, creating artwork from nowhere with seemingly minimal effort, whilst Susan toils with her creation not matching up to her vision for years. It does a great job of showing the madness of the art world, alongside the madness of the artists!
The darkness in the characters also had me spellbound! It made them even more fascinating to read about as you just don’t know where their ‘art’ will take them next!! I savoured every page of this book! A fabulous read that I highly recommend to one and all!!