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Painting the Invisible Man: 10/19/09
"Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, 'Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.'" (p. 110). This Emerson quote best sums up the central theme of Painting the Invisible Man by Rita Schiano. It's a roman à clef about a writer who in the course of researching her novel begins the painful process of investigating the truth behind her father's 1976 death.
The novel begins with the head shot of Amy Tan talking to Anna Matteo, telling her to write! Anna has been struggling for seven years to write a novel and has reached the point where she's procrastinating more than she's writing. The odd experience of having an author's photograph talk to her spurs her back into writing but she's not sure of the direction it is taking her.
Most of the book ends up focusing on Anna's childhood, her relationship with her father and the clues that she might have missed as a child that he had mob ties. I'm not normally a fan of mob stories. So often they seem over written and full of cliches. Perhaps because Rita Schiano was drawing inspiration from her own life, the events and characters seemed plausible. Underneath the crimes, they were still people and not just cookie cutter mobster characters.
In some of the reviews I've read there are complaints about the ending – that it's not tight enough. I like the way it ends. It ends by folding in on itself, thus connecting with the magical realism elements that pepper the present day events.
I received the book from the author for review and have since bookcrossed it.