Siri Hustvedt


Henry Holt and Co.


The six pieces in Yonder, Hustvedt's first book of essays, are all meditations on the complex relationship between art and the world. They include a personal essay on memory and place, which investigates the images we retain from our lives, the lives of others in the world, and the lives of characters in books. In “Vermeer's Annunciation,” Hustvedt gives an entirely original interpretation of the Vermeer painting Woman with a Pearl Necklace. In “Ghosts at the Table,” she examines the essence of still life as a genre in painting from Cotan and Chardin to Philip Guston. Other essays include a profound piece about Dickens, a reassessment of The Great Gatsby, and a witty and provocative assault on contemporary pieties entitled “A Plea for Eros.”


“In this slim medley, novelist Hustvedt (The Blindfold, 1992; The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, 1996) ranges freely from autobiography to Vermeer’s Woman with a Pearl Necklace to Dickens to The Great Gatsby. The fine title piece takes as its subject the dichotomy of here and there, and the space in between, or “yonder”: Hustvedt’s native Minnesota and her parents’ Norway, Norway and New York City, where she makes her adult home. She writes about time, space, early memory, or what we ascribe to memory. She wonders what the world is like from her child’s point of view, and considers children’s sense of place, their preference for order in repetition.” —Kirkus Reviews