By Michael Stein
Permanent Press, $28.00, 206 pages
Based on a true story of an art-world rivalry and courtroom drama, Michael Stein’s The Rape of the Muse is a novel every aspiring artist should read. Stein tells the story of Rand Taber, a painter with painter’s block and his experience with muse and an “artistic giant” named Harris. When Rand becomes Harris’ studio assistant, he gains a front row seat to the crumbling relationship between Harris and his longtime sculptor friend, Simon. The novel’s main focus comes from Harris using electronic manipulations of Rand, the woman Rand is dating and Simon in his new picture, “The Rape of the Muse,” and Simon suing Harris for libel.
Beyond the main plot of the novel, Stein is able to share an inside look at the art world in New York and Providence, Rhode Island, and managed to inspire the muse within this reviewer through the way he tells the story. He gives the reader the details to feel for each character in the story and anyone who reads this book will likely be unable to decide whose side they are on in the lawsuit. It’s a beautiful story of art and muse, love, hero worship, and betrayal that every artist, or aspiring artist, should pick up. Reading The Rape of the Muse is an experience the reader will never forget.