Laura Gonzalez

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3 Apr 2014

The Finishing School by Muriel Spark***

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Reading dates: 15 March – 3 April 2014

I had not planned to read Spark’s last novel, especially since I found ‘Loitering with Intent’ a little awkward. Sometimes, though, one has to throw one’s plans to the wind and embrace the moment so, as Neil got me tickets for ‘Muriel Spark’s Finishing School for Writers‘ I thought I would swot. I am glad I did. It is a lovely book about jealousy and envy amongst writers. It is witty and inconsequential (I like Muriel’s inconsequential), a little neurotic. It depicts one academic year in the life of College Sunrise and how this affects teachers, support staff and students. Then, why the 3*? Well, the book is rather short (98 pages) and could have taken a few more breaths to develop towards the finale. The denouement is almost as if someone told Dame Muriel she had a week to complete it, when it needed four. Still elegant, but rushed. She could have done so much more with Darnley and Rizzio and Mary Queen of Scots. The parallels between court and college are inspired. She still had it in her last novel but it feels as if she lost interest in it.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Reading


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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.