Booklist's Advance Review of A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind
In their advance review of A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind Booklist's Donna Seaman writes: "Exceptionally gifted novelist and essayist Hustvedt, on par with Marilynne Robinson, is an ardently curious, caring, and eloquent thinker and writer inspired equally by the arts, neuroscience, and philosophy. This major collection of essays written between 2011 and 2015 follows the equally substantial nonfiction volume Living, Thinking, Looking (2012) and her award-winning sixth novel, The Blazing World (2014). Hustvedt performs quickening investigations into the depiction of women by the painters Beckmann, de Kooning, and Picasso, and the male body by Mapplethorpe; the undervaluing of women artists, with special attention paid to Louise Bourgeois; and the extreme valuation of Jeff Koons.
"As she incisively considers works by filmmaker Wim Wenders, literary artist Karl Ove Knausgaard, and painter Anselm Kiefer, Hustvedt illuminates the dynamics of perception and the influence of expectation and context. As she delves ever more deeply into the mind/body, reason/passion, sex/gender splits, she parses the writings of such influential figures as Kierkegaard and Richard Dawkins and ponders her own mysterious synesthesia and the circular challenges of studying mental processes. Though these are erudite and intellectually sophisticated essays, Hustvedt is beguiling and wholly present in each lively, first-person, thrillingly interdisciplinary narrative as she scrutinizes human nature, especially the essential role emotion plays in memory, learning, empathy, morality, and art."