Radiant Days
by Hand, Elizabeth

Aspiring artist Meredith contemplates suicide, but her mind is changed after she finds a wall painting that can transport people through time and she meets an inspiring young artist from a different era.

Elizabeth Hand (www.elizabethhand.com) is the award-winning author of many novels for adults, as well as a widely published reviewer. She lives in Lincolnville, Maine.

Merle, a graffiti artist and art-school dropout, tags the streets of 1970s Washington, D.C., with her trademark, an exploding sun with the words Radiant Days scrawled on walls and buildings. She has nothing left. No family, no friends-even her art is stolen from the condemned flat where she was squatting. In a separate story line set 100 years earlier, Arthur, who traverses 1870s France, spends his time writing poetry, getting arrested, and reveling in the freedom of his rootless existence. This fantasy-tinged novel introduces readers to Arthur Rimbaud, the patron saint of young artists, and his expansive sphere of influence in a way that will capture readers' interest. Hand's strong suit is conjuring up vivid images, but while Merle's narrative is rendered in beautiful, frustrated, and disbelieving first person, the omniscient third granted to Rimbaud's passages falls flat in comparison. Still, his speculative, detailed, and evocative flight of fancy is a stirring tribute to a man and his art. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

A 20th-century teen artist and 19th-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud transcend time and place in this luminous paean to the transformative power of art. In September 1977, 18-year-old Merle leaves rural Virginia to attend the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. Her drawings catch the eye of drawing instructor Clea, who initiates a romantic relationship with Merle. Overwhelmed by the sophisticated urban art scene, Merle drifts out of school. When Clea drops her, a homeless Merle desperately spray-paints her signature sun-eye graffiti across the city until she encounters a mercurial tramp who mystically connects her with the visionary Rimbaud, in the bloom of his artistic powers at age 16. Incredulous over their stunning time travel, Merle and Rimbaud recognize they are kindred spirits who live to create. Hand deftly alternates between Merle's first-person, past-tense story and a third-person account of Rimbaud during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871-72, laced with excerpts from his poems and letters. Suffused with powerful images of light, this intensely lyrical portrait of two androgynous young artists who magically traverse a century to briefly escape their equally disturbing worlds expands the themes of artistic isolation and passion Hand first introduced in Illyria (2010). An impressive blend of biography and magical realism. (author's notes; select bibliography) (Fantasy. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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