From National Book Award-winner Glass, the story of an unusual bond between a world-famous writer and his assistant. When the revered children's book author Mort Lear dies accidentally at his Connecticut home, he leaves his property and all its contents to his trusted assistant, Tomasina Daulair, who is moved by his generosity but dismayed by the complicated and defiant directives in his will.
...a lovely meditation on the mysteries of creativity and its costs, not just to creators, but to those who surround them ... It’s a pleasure to be in the hands of a consummate storyteller, and Glass’s mastery is particularly evident in her skillful use of Morty’s obvious but never overbearing resemblance to the late Maurice Sendak...From this factual scaffolding Glass constructs a fully imagined fictional figure. The traumas that inform Morty’s art are quite different from those Sendak acknowledged to his biographer; more importantly, they resonate with the experiences of other characters as three-dimensional and engaging as he is ... Avoiding clichés about tortured, exploitative genius, Glass crafts a thoughtful, warm-hearted tale about the choices each of us makes, with consequences inevitably both good and bad.
With each of these characters, Glass does just what a generous author should do. She unfolds backstories; she demarcates key traumas; she recapitulates thoughts ... It should all be confusing, but because Glass is a pro, the trains keep running, and we wait to see what happens when her three co-protagonists all converge on Mort’s estate with their private agendas ... In the absence of narrative tension, then, we are left with this thresh of rival perspectives, all generously delivered in the same third-person omniscient. And we are reminded that, like St. Peter, we sit at the pearly gates of our own tastes, deciding (in the absence of clear direction) whom we want to spend our time with ... Meredith worries more than once about being an urban cliche, but even if she is, and even if she belongs in some other, more rigorous novel, hers is a thread I wouldn’t mind following out to its full length.
Modeling Lear loosely after real-life author-illustrator Maurice Sendak,who was gay, Glass uses his biography as a jumping off point to create a charming yet cagey character whose darkest secret itself has a secret ... Writing about writing can be a tough trick to pull off without descending into cliches about troubled geniuses or mystification of the creative process itself or even pandering about the nobility of books and the people who read them. But Glass accomplishes her task with a fresh vision and little fuss ... Eloquent and spell-binding, Glass interrogates these notions of intimacy: who we let see us and how much we let them see.