As Ray gazes at the sea, a woman in the distance suddenly turns to face him―and a dying seagull falls from the sky, knocking him unconscious. When Ray wakes up, he’s inexplicably compelled to paint the woman’s image, obsessively and repeatedly. Discovered by a power couple of Outsider Art, he becomes one of the most celebrated artists of the century.
Ray Eccles is struck on the head by a dying bird as he walks on the beach. From that moment Ray becomes obsessed with a single image—the face of the woman he was looking at when he was concussed—and compelled to draw it again and again using any materials at hand (condiments and bodily fluids included). Rumor of his habit reaches a prominent gallerist and soon Ray is a nationally celebrated outsider artist, his ever-expanding 'She' series exhibited beside Hockney and Lucian Freud ... At its simplest, this is a commemoration of the lost art of seeing. The holy intensity of Ray’s vision stands out against the countless missed connections, distractions and estrangements that mark a life’s relationships. The book reminds us that a single act of attentiveness—of passionate noticing—can cause beauty to drop unexpectedly into the world, 'like something fallen from the sky.'
Page’s graceful debut follows an unwitting artist’s rise to fame and provides deep introspections about loneliness and death ... The novel’s charming, light tone nicely balances its powerful meditations on art and failed expectations, resulting in a moving story.
At the moment a seagull drops on Ray Eccles’ head, his eyes open to a woman’s face. He paints that face, over and over, for years: first in foodstuffs on the wall of his rented bungalow, and later in sought-after paintings as part of the outsider-art movement. Paige invites us to spend time in the life of Eccles’ unknown muse, a young mother who runs a dress shop and who eventually discovers her fame ... The small moment with the seagull ripples into large impacts across many lives in untidy ways that are nonetheless compelling and honest.