RECOMMENDATION

GREAT BOOKS

By Jim Shepard

Here's my entry in that worn out yet ever-growing category of Great Books That Haven't Gotten the Attention They Deserve: Marta Morazzoni's The Invention of Truth.  It's a miraculously delicate and intelligent novel–the whole thing runs under 100 smallish pages–that pulls together, with enviable understatement and sensual clarity, two seemingly unrelated historical moments:  the commissioning and embroidering of the Bayeux tapestry in Normandy in the 11th century, and art critic John Ruskin's visit to Amiens to reflect on its famous cathedral in the 19th century. Turns out they're not so unrelated.  The effect is like witnessing the coming together of two 17th century Dutch still lifes, each calm, luminous, utterly lucid, and ultimately mysterious.