Crumpled Paper: A Novel About Art and Tea, Michael S. Moore. Sanford, NC: Word-Brokers, LLC, 2022.
Summary: The tale of the unfolding of an artistic vision, and a friend who, acting as agent, just wants his artist friend to stay solvent.
Crumpled paper. Have you ever thought what happens when you crumple a two dimensional sheet of paper into a ball? Suddenly a uniform sheet of paper becomes an unbelievably complex three dimensional object with ridges, folds, and much greater compressive strength. Flatten out a crumpled paper and one sees an incredible network of fold lines.
The central character in this work, Richard, as part of his artistic journey, creates a show consisting of crumpled paper drawings. One of these, Crumpled Paper #3 is sold to a photographer friend at the show for $1000. If he would have saved the crumpled ball of paper from which it was drawn, he could have sold that to her as well, probably for the same price. So he laments to his friend Glenn in Le Petite Café where he goes to drink tea from a special cup linked to his muse, Renoir and his favorite painting of Renoir’s, Luncheon of the Boating Party. Richard even has a favorite table with the perfect view, which he eventually “buys” with one of his drawings.
In the course of this book we meet a number of Richard’s friends, many also artists in various media–photographers, writers, musicians, and dancers. Conversations move between galleries and cafés, as they talk about their work, sometimes collaborating. Meanwhile Glenn, acting as Richard’s agent, tries to keep him financially solvent as he pursues his artistic vision which moves successively to a huge ball of collaboratively crumpled paper as the centerpiece of an show, to a culminating show featuring dresses made from paper, displayed as they would be in a fashion show on live models. How all this unfolds, how Richard’s mind works, and his efforts to live an aesthetic vision in art, in drinking tea, and the rest of life make this fun.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Richard, Crumpled Paper #3 has an interesting life of its own, doubling and re-doubling in price. There is a bit of tongue-in-cheek commentary on all this. What was pure accident, doing the drawing on the wrong side of the paper, as evident in a reversed watermark, becomes part of the mythos of the work. We also see one of the sad ironies of works that increase in value. The artist only realizes the price he or she sold it for.
I love the way Michael S. Moore unfolds this story. The conversations among artists and connoisseurs and the feeding off of one another’s inspiration rings true to time I’ve spent with artists secure enough to appreciate each other’s work. I liked the characters in this story, the development leading up the final show, and the denouement, which I will leave you to discover. And I found myself drooling over the different dishes they enjoy at Le Petite Café.
The most delightful thing about this is that the book is by a local (to me) author and it may well be my “sleeper” of the year. I like to review local authors if I think they might have an interesting work that I’ll be able to recommend. This one did not disappoint and I hope this is only the first I see from this author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author.