The Art Thief

7 Jan

I’ve just finished Noah Charney’s The Art Thief.  It got a ton of really awful reviews, but quite a few of them lose credibility for being poorly written, full of misspellings, or inexplicably vicious.  And so, here’s mine…

This book is essentially a mystery, a genre that I am rather unqualified to rate appropriately.  Overall, I think the mystery aspect of the book was entertaining and not overtly obvious, so probably successful.

More than that, however, I adored this book.  It is easily one of the best I have read.  Of course, all of my reasons are selfish and probably not applicable to most people.  This book appealed to all of my favorite things.

It made me feel smart.  Scattered, untranslated phrases in French and Italian made sense to me.  Of course they were simple, conversational terms, but I was proud of my ability to read them.  That being said, I think most of them could be understood in the context of the book without being able to translate them, so I hope no one is turned off by that.  There are truly very few sentences in the book that are not in English, and none of them contain major plot secrets, so you would miss nothing even if you ignored them completely.  For me, though, it was a satisfying discovery that I could translate them.

The art works mentioned in the book brought to mind specific mental pictures for me.  I loved the chance to flip through my mental art rolodex, and this reminded me exactly how much I love art history.  I am newly motivated to continue pursuing an art historical graduate education in some sense.

Overall, this book made me feel good about me.  It’s not really meant to do so, but it appealed to all of the things I am proud of, and so gave me a better sense of my own academic ability and worth.

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One Response to “The Art Thief”

  1. Jendeis January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Gotta say, I did not love this book. In fact, I might have skipped out on it halfway through.

    Looking for more art-related books? I really enjoyed Tracey Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn (fiction). Right now, I’m reading Jonathan Harr’s The Lost Painting (sort of non-fiction) about a (duh) lost painting of Caravaggio’s.

    Isn’t art history the best? It’s stories with pictures.

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