Fake Like Me – Barbara Bourland
This novel was an unexpected surprise in that it was marketed more as a psychological thriller, when in fact it’s a literate, lyrical, fascinating exploration of not only an unnamed narrator, a young female artist, but also a group of five more established artists who have formed a loose art commune called Pine City. The protagonist eventually is invited to join them, when a fire destroys the eight major billboard-sized works she’s completed for a gallery showing in three months. Through connections, she’s able to use the abandoned studio of Carey Logan, one of the original five, who drowned herself on the property and she becomes obsessed with delving into why or even if Carey committed suicide.
I worked as an art consultant for years and so was totally transfixed by the descriptions of this artist’s work, so detailed and so intriguing. The only other recent description of how an artist works that I can remember was Mia in Little Fires Everywhere and Bourland has given us even more insight into the creative mind, not only the inspiration for this women’s paintings but the sheer physicality and the quite hefty price tag that goes into the production of large-scale works such as these. There is a central mystery to the narrative and an unexpected reveal toward the end but no terror/suspense/fear in the sense of the Gone Girl clones. No, this is literary fiction/women’s fiction with fully-formed characters and offers a rare glimpse into the creative process seen through the eyes of the artist herself.