Monday, December 5, 2016

Wendy Lee's "The Art of Confidence"

Wendy Lee is the author of the novels The Art of Confidence, Across a Green Ocean, and Happy Family. Happy Family was named one of the top ten debut novels of 2008 by Booklist and awarded an honorable mention from the Association of Asian American Studies.

A graduate of Stanford University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program, Lee has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo. She spent more than a decade in the publishing industry as an editor at HarperCollins Publishers and Lantern Books in Brooklyn, where she co-edited the anthology Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and the Sexual Politics of Meat. She has also worked as an English teacher in China, taught writing at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and served as a mentor with Girls Write Now.

Here Lee dreamcasts an adaptation of The Art of Confidence:
The Art of Confidence is told from five different points of view involving a forged painting: the forger, the gallery owner, her assistant, the buyer, and the original artist.

The forger, Liu Qingwu, is a Chinese immigrant in his fifties who’s lived in America for thirty years as an unsuccessful artist. Outwardly, he’s nearly invisible—another character describes him as looking like a deliveryman. Inside, though, he possesses a keen and pessimistic wit. John Lone (from The Last Emperor and M. Butterfly) would be great at depicting those two sides.

Caroline Lowry, the gallery owner who commissions the forgery, is described by Liu as “well-preserved in the way city women over a certain age are.” She also has her vulnerable and quirky moments, so I feel like Diane Keaton would be a good fit.

Caroline’s assistant, Molly, is a 22-year-old college dropout and aspiring artist who suspects that is something is off about her boss’s new art acquisition. She’s a bit like Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham’s character on Girls), although hopefully less annoying.

The buyer of the forged painting is Harold Yu, a Taiwanese businessman whose entire life has been mapped out by his father and wife. The painting becomes the only thing that is truly his. Tony Leung Chiu-wai (from In the Mood for Love) has that perfect, unassuming exterior with hidden melancholic depths.

The final character is the original artist, Andrew Cantrell, whose painting is being forged. He’s based in part on Jackson Pollock, so in my mind as I was writing I pictured Ed Harris, who played Pollock in the 2000 movie of the same title. A 16-years-younger Ed Harris would be just right for the role.
Visit Wendy Lee's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Across a Green Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: Across a Green Ocean.

Writers Read: Wendy Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue