Last year’s Edward Hopper-themed anthology edited by Lawrence Block blew a lot of people away, and I loved it. So I was thrilled when Lawrence Block asked me to pen a story for the second volume, which was open to all works of art. I chose “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind”, by Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was a political painting that was, as they say, evergreen.
Publishers Weekly loves the new book, and now Library Journal’s Liz French does as well. I’m quite chuffed that she called my story “stunning” and selected it, along with Joe Lansdale’s, as one of her two favorites:
Following the success of 2016’s art-related collection In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, also edited by Block, this follow-up falls a little short but still contains some nuggets. Unlike the Hopper-centric stories of the earlier volume, this title features all manner of art, from the cave paintings of Lascaux (Jeffery Deaver’s “A Significant Find”) to Balthus (Joyce Carol Oates’s creepy “Les Beaux Jours”), Bosch (Michael Connelly’s taut “The Third Panel”), Van Gogh (David Morrell’s “Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity”), Rodin (Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s uneven “Thinkers”), and many others. Some authors tell the painting’s creation myth, with Morrell’s Stephen King-inflected offering a standout, and Nicholas Christopher contributing “Girl with a Fan” (Gauguin), a spy story with Nazis. Sarah Weinman’s period-perfect “The Big Town,” and Lee Child’s well-crafted “Pierre, Lucien, and Me” feature art-loving protagonists compelled by paintings to do wrong. In “The Great Wave,” S.J. Rozan’s captive narrator speaks to a print of Katsushika Hokusai’s masterpiece (it talks back). Yet two of the best stories, Joe R. Lansdale’s deceptively folksy “Charlie the Barber,” and Thomas Pluck’s stunning “Truth Comes Out of Her Well To Shame Mankind,” barely mention their chosen artworks. VERDICT Reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, this anthology has something, often nasty or scary, for every art lover.—Liz French, Library Journal
Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
This was a nice shot in the arm after the New York Times reviewer who missed the point of the story, but gave me my first mention in the newspaper of record.
You can get Alive in Shape in Color in bookstores and libraries everywhere. It’s a beautiful book with full color reproductions of the art, and makes a lovely gift.