Blood of the Virgin

Pantheon. (Pantheon Graphic Library). May 2023. 296p. ISBN 9780593316696. $30. F
Los Angeles in the early 1970s proves fertile ground to explore artistic ambition, the immigrant experience, generational trauma, and the cost of maintaining unbending principles in Harkham’s (Everything Together: Collected Stories) magnum opus. The story concerns a married couple, Seymour and Ida. He was born in Iraq, she’s the daughter of Holocaust survivors who resettled in New Zealand after World War II. He’s an editor for one of the seediest B-movie production houses in town, but dreams of writing and directing his own films; she struggles to maintain a sense of her own identity while raising their newborn child mostly alone, as Seymour is too consumed with frustration at his lack of artistic fulfillment to worry about anyone else. When a producer decides to produce a heavily revised version of one of Seymour’s scripts, he discovers that achieving a compromised version of his dream is just as difficult as maintaining a dream deferred. Unable to endure his tortured artist anxiety any longer, Ida returns to New Zealand—maybe for good, unless Seymour can get his act together.
VERDICT A stunningly ambitious, emotionally complex work from an artist with a distinct perspective on the pursuit of artistic fulfillment.
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