Monday, November 5, 2007

Wednesday: Blue Nude at the Book Club

ELIZABETH ROSNER, poet and novelist, will appear at Britta's Cafe Book Club on Wednesday November 7 at 2 pm. Britta's Cafe is located in the shopping center across from UCI at 4237 Campus Drive in Irvine.

Rosner's second novel, "Blue Nude," was published by Ballantine Books in May 2006. Charles Matthew, in the San Francisco Chronicle has this to say:

A German artist and an Israeli model meet in a San Francisco classroom. That's the setup for Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner's novel "Blue Nude," which tracks the growing fascination that each has with the other.

Both are stuck on the peripheries of their fields. Danzig, a 58-year-old painter who once had considerable success, is blocked creatively and supports himself by teaching. Merav, who is half his age, studied to be an artist, but now works as a life model...But the history of the countries they left keeps those doors from staying shut. When Merav learns that he's German, "she isn't sure she can manage to stay in the room. She's stunned by this almost primal response, her coiled readiness for flight." Later she will recall, "The poses she took in the first session were all in the shape of fear: a woman turning away from something threatening; a body in flight; the curled up shape of self-defense, protecting the heart, the belly." Danzig is not at all blind to this. When he learns her name, he reflects, "It is of course an Israeli name, so she is Jewish, as he had guessed. No wonder she will not look him in the eye." And so they begin a wary dance toward acceptance of each other.

The risk of a premise like this one is that the novel can devolve either into sentimental melodrama, a kind of beauty-and-beast romance, or into a moralizing fable, in which the characters wear labels like Fear and Guilt as they move toward Reconciliation. Rosner is too good a writer to fall into either trap, and she avoids them here largely because of her sensitive and complex portrait of Merav, whose delicate balance of vulnerability and strength Rosner captures in her reflections on Merav's work as a nude model: "Anatomy is more than bones and muscles. Her body is an abstraction, a narrative designing itself in the air." When Merav poses, "she is unveiled down to bare skin, exposed that far, but the world inside her body, the universe of dream and sensation that lives beneath her bones stays covered. All of that belongs only to her."

For more information about Rosner's appearance and the book club and to make reservations, please email Britta at:

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