Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Book Review: "Audubon's Watch"

John Gregory Brown's Audubon's Watch (2001) is a highly-imagined and elegant work of fiction, providing an imagined backstory to one of the most bizarre and famous episodes in John James Audubon's life (the New Orleans portrait) through Audubon's own vague, addled reminiscences and from the perspective of Emile Gautreaux, a New Orleans anatomist with secrets of his own.

Audubon's portions of the story are told in the form of musings to his daughters, both of whom died in infancy. Rather a strange narrative choice, but Brown manages to carry it off without the whole thing coming across as too macabre. Tying together strong elements of remorse and yearning, confusion and memory, time and guilt, Audubon's Watch is a recommended read for those interested in Audubon, or as a good summer afternoon's tale for just about anyone.