Reading Brooke Shields
the garden of failure
This dialogue about depression and culture constitutes Canadian author Eldon Garnet’s “confessions” as a failed cultural critic who, after writing all his life, is faced once again with the desire. Awakened from semiretirement by a magazine commission on Brooke Shields, an icon of virginal perfection, Garnet has his narrator weave a dark tale of professionalism, the abyss of failure that remains when the fifteen minutes of fame have long since dried up. The “subject” of the narrative, Brooke Shields, becomes an untouchable, idealized figure in a world of personalities and faces. It is through the very absence and untouchability of this fetishized celebrity icon that Garnet describes the vicissitudes of his narrator’s decline. Sinister, comical, and profound, Garnet’s novel is a work of cultural politics and radical honesty.
Eldon Garnet was the editor of IMPULSE, an influential international magazine of art and culture. Simultaneously pursuing his interests in visual art, theory, and literature, Garnet has become one of Canada’s most original contemporary artists, with exhibits at the National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and the Amsterdam Center of Photography. He is the author of Reading Brooke Shields: The Garden of Failure (Semiotext(e), 1995), called by The Toronto Globe & Mail “a terrific book, an unforgettable pop novel.” Garnet lives in Toronto, but spends months alone in his remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness.