Steven Gillis; BENCHERE IN WONDERLAND; Hawthorne Books (Fiction: Literary) 18.95 ISBN: 9780990437055
Byline: Genevieve Shifke Ali
Art and the role of the artist in society meet with African politics and exploitation in this meditation on action and consequences.
An exploration of the human condition after and amidst tragedy, Benchere in Wonderland follows artist Michael Benchere and his rag-tag group of companions to the Kalahari desert, where Benchere builds his largest sculpture to date. In his work that took four years to complete, Steven Gillis turns his eye on art, politics, and the role of the artist in society, if there is one.
Broken up into two parts, Benchere in Wonderland begins in a present version of the past, almost as if Benchere relives his flashbacks as he remembers them. Cutting between past and present, book one serves as a means of profiling Benchere and some other characters from his life pre-Africa. Switching gears for the second two thirds of the novel, book two is almost entirely chronological as it follows Benchere's and the others' experiences while building his sculpture in Africa. Benchere interacts with quite a motley crew of characters during his travels and time sculpting. Each serves to further characterize Benchere or to add another perspective on the purpose of art, but...