Without Risk There Is No Art

My Review of A House Near Luccoli by D. M. Denton, published by All Things That Matter Press

The author’s style takes the conventional and then begins the deconstruction, the rearrangements, to bring us into the reality of Alessandro Stradella, a gifted Baroque composer and musician. This deconstruction and rearranging is what an artist does. Rather than imitate reality, he selects what is important to him, and abstracts what is essential to achieve a new reality. People, relationships, emotions and ideas are put through this process of reordering. The artist abstracts what is vital and compelling, and releases it as a living thing.

From the moment of inspiration until the intuitive flow has ceased, expression is more important than communication. For this reason, an artist often is not very good at personal relationships. So it is with Alessandro Stradella.

The book explores the ways in which passion can order and disorder an artist’s creativity, and drive even a repressed and unadventurous person to experiment. Stradella’s behavior is a form of rebellion against the power that the elite have over artists in his day. His music is filled with pure notes, a sharp contrast to a corrupt world that tempts him.

When he deconstructs one of the powerful, his risky behavior is a direct threat, not a concerto that can be interpreted and dismissed with a smile. Rearranging and abstracting, done clumsily, appear to be a form of imitation known as mockery. Stradella takes this beyond the stage and written page and pays a heavy price.

Without risk there is no art, only craftsmanship. There are beautiful sentences in this book that would not have been possible without the experimentation that preceded them. A House Near Luccoli tears away at the borders of convention, just as Stradella did in his life.

It may be irrelevant to think in terms of success and failure when it comes to any artistic endeavor, since all efforts contribute to the artist’s journey, and there is always difference of opinion on what has succeeded and what has not. But there are times when the artist and the audience know the effort has not reached the desire outcome, when the intuition has moved in another direction and the work continued at a less inspired and more conceptualized level. In this book, Denton has often remained true to her intuition. Some sentences soar, while many loop out into variations on a theme, as music does, with results that are satisfying, or disconcerting, and oddly, often both. This baroque writing style adeptly embodies the times and the musician/composer who inhabits the story.

This review is also posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

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