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"The Master's Muse" by Varley O'ConnorNew novel about Le Clercq and Balanchine


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#1 Neryssa

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:35 AM

Does anybody know anything about a novel called "The Master's Muse" by Varley O'Connor. It will be released later this spring. I am a bit wary...



#2 Natalia

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:26 AM

Hopefully not another dose of Musagète-like inventions.

#3 kfw

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:39 AM

Thanks for alerting us, Neryssa. I'm wary too, although I see the author has received some good reviews for previous novels. So, according to the Amazon page, the author watched "hundreds of hours of documentaries and New York City Ballet footage to capture Le Clercq’s essence." rg would know better than anyone, but I'll be greatly surprised if hundreds of hours of Le Clerq or even Le Clerq-era footage even exist.

#4 California

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:40 AM

There's a blurb on the Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/145165538X
But if you want to pre-order, please use the little box in the lower left of this site, so Ballet Alert gets a cut.

The publisher's site has a little more information: http://books.simonandschuster.ca/Master's-Muse/Varley-O'Connor/9781451657760

#5 rg

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:59 AM

saying hundreds of minutes with regard to films w/ TLC would even seem to be a stretch here.
most of what's on film w/ LeClercq in the pretty thorough NYPL cat. is silent and black-and-white, and overall bits-and-piece-y.
TLC was much photographed, but filmed?
not really.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

This sounds more promising. However, I find it curious that the author choses to tell the story as a novel, rather than a biography, if so much research went into its writing. Odd.

#7 Neryssa

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:52 AM

It is curious. Unless O'Connor interviewed dancers and friends from the period, she knows much less than most people on this forum. She is imagining the rest... O'Connor has the right to do so but it just makes me uncomfortable. I don't know how to articulate my uneasiness and resentment - the latter which is silly, I suppose.

#8 Bonnette

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:21 PM

Unless O'Connor interviewed dancers and friends from the period, she knows much less than most people on this forum. She is imagining the rest... O'Connor has the right to do so but it just makes me uncomfortable. I don't know how to articulate my uneasiness and resentment - the latter which is silly, I suppose.

I understand this sense of resentment, in that imagining Tanaquil Le Clercq's life - as opposed to transparent discussion of her actual circumstances and body of work - feels like a violation to me. I agree with Natalia, it seems odd that so much avowed research should be used in the service of fiction (though, in fairness, the author is primarily a novelist and not a biographer). I have long hoped for a full biography of Ms. Le Clercq, and am sorry that this won't be it.

#9 kfw

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:43 PM

Unless O'Connor interviewed dancers and friends from the period, she knows much less than most people on this forum. She is imagining the rest... O'Connor has the right to do so but it just makes me uncomfortable. I don't know how to articulate my uneasiness and resentment - the latter which is silly, I suppose.

I understand this sense of resentment, in that imagining Tanaquil Le Clercq's life - as opposed to transparent discussion of her actual circumstances and body of work - feels like a violation to me. I agree with Natalia, it seems odd that so much avowed research should be used in the service of fiction (though, in fairness, the author is primarily a novelist and not a biographer). I have long hoped for a full biography of Ms. Le Clercq, and am sorry that this won't be it.

My sentiments exactly.

#10 Neryssa

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:16 PM

- I have long hoped for a full biography of Ms. Le Clercq, and am sorry that this won't be it.


Me too, Bonnette. Or at least a book of photographs - although to be fair, Ballet Review published wonderful photographic tributes to Le Clercq after her death. Didn't she leave an archive?

#11 Bonnette

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:45 PM

Didn't she leave an archive?


I do not know the extent of what she left - perhaps rg has this information. Oh, how I wish she'd written her autobiography!

#12 Neryssa

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:43 PM

FYI, Bonnette: From The New York City Ballet for researchers link:
http://www.nycballet...rs/archive.html

An overview of the NYCB Archive collections includes the: Ballet Society Collection, New York City Ballet Collection, School of American Ballet Collection, George Balanchine Trust Collection, and Tanaquil Le Clercq Personal Archive. (They misspelled her name as: Le Clerq) Posted Image

#13 Bonnette

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:58 PM

Thank you so much for that link, Neryssa! Posted Image

#14 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:30 PM

I smell a rat somewhere here- either it is a biography or it is straight fiction. But to borrow a person, who at any rate has been alive in my life time, is IMO, a bit much. Dont really know what to make of it, but my gut feeling is that I am not interested. Will definitely not buy.

#15 Bonnette

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 05:20 PM

- either it is a biography or it is straight fiction. But to borrow a person, who at any rate has been alive in my life time, is IMO, a bit much.

Yes. The so-called "narrative history" genre is very problematic, since facts don't matter as much as moving the story along. For legal purposes, O'Connor's novel would probably fall into the same category so often encountered in film adaptations: "As suggested by..." But it feels like a cheap shot. The title (The Master's Muse) is equally annoying - as if Tanaquil Le Clercq's entire identity revolved around her contribution to Balanchine's genius. Please.


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