Sunday, November 22, 2009
Hey Oscar Wilde!
Well, I finally found the time to contribute a piece to Hey Oscar Wilde, Steven Gettis' collection of literary-figure-drawings. If you've never been to the site, I highly recommend browsing its rich archives (since 1998!), organized by both artist and subject. The basic premise: your favorite artists depict their favorite literary personalities, whether authors or characters. In my case, I decided to go with Mona Monzano, the beautiful xylophonist, from Vonnegut's atomic novel, Cat's Cradle.
I "read" the book a couple years ago and loved every minute of it — all 432 of them. I listen to audiobooks while I work, which helps me to focus the visual part of my brain while (hopefully) developing the other parts. I've been a fan of Vonnegut since reading Slaughterhouse V in high school, but somehow missed this particular novel. I took this commission as an opportunity to listen to the book again, which I enjoyed even more the second time.
Mona was an obvious choice for me, being the sublime beauty that serves as muse and motivation for so many of the book's characters. I'm happy to find any excuse to draw beautiful women, but in Mona's case, beauty overwhelms its host, causing her at one point to attempt to make herself ugly (this is only mentioned in passing — in an index obsessed with her, no less). She is the "reluctant, erotic symbol of San Lorenzo," the small, Caribbean island nation she calls home. Mona is the subject of poetry and painting, mosaic and music — she is even mentioned by name in the Books of Bokonon! Much like the narrator, I had no choice but to pursue her.