In search of the surreal
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi also uses a visual medium to comment on visual arts, and it does so in a similarly bizarre fashion. The young painter Georges Braque seeks the patronage of the famous Leo and Gertrude Stein; quickly invited to join their salon, he learns that the Steins are terrified. A mysterious blue demon-lady has been prowling the streets of Paris at night, murdering artists and gallery owners. Then comes the weird part: To hunt down this killer, the salon's members (including Picasso, Apollinaire and others) drink blue absinthe, which allows them to enter any painting they choose. They've deduced that the killer is Paul Gauguin's mistress, and she's hiding out in his paintings. The book is vivid and dynamic, all strong lines, intense blues and greens and punchy dialogue. His take on Picasso as a volatile, childlike savant is priceless. Best of all are the Frenchified sound effects: instead of bang! or kapow! you have clonque! and kique!