One of NPR’s Best Books of 2019
A 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence finalist
A 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist
A 2020 Chautauqua Prize finalist
“A daringly inventive parable of female creativity and motherhood” (O, The Oprah Magazine) from Myla Goldberg, the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Bee Season, a compelling and wholly original story about a female photographer grappling with ambition and motherhood, a balancing act familiar to women of every generation.
Feast Your Eyes, framed as the catalog notes from a photography show at the Museum of Modern Art, tells the life story of Lillian Preston: “America’s Worst Mother, America’s Bravest Mother, America’s Worst Photographer, or America’s Greatest Photographer, depending on who was talking.” After discovering photography as a teenager through her high school’s photo club, Lillian rejects her parents’ expectations of college and marriage and moves to New York City in 1955. When a small gallery exhibits partially nude photographs of Lillian and her daughter, Samantha, Lillian is arrested, thrust into the national spotlight, and targeted with an obscenity charge. Mother and daughter’s sudden notoriety changes the course of both of their lives and especially Lillian’s career as she continues a lifelong quest for artistic legitimacy and recognition.
“A searching consideration of the way that the identities and perceptions of a female artist shift over time” (The New Yorker), Feast Your Eyes shares Samantha’s memories, interviews with Lillian’s friends and lovers, and excerpts from Lillian’s journals and letters - a collage of stories and impressions, together amounting to an astounding portrait of a mother and an artist dedicated, above all, to a vision of beauty, truth, and authenticity.
Myla Goldberg has gifted us with “a mother-daughter story, an art-monster story, and an exciting structural gambit” (Lit Hub) - and, in the end, “a universal and profound story of love and loss” (New York Newsday).