The Chalk Artist
Tension arises in the love affair of a young artist for whom nothing is permanent and his girlfriend, a teacher who believes that things are meant to last by the New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist.This is a compelling love story between two very different young people: Collin, a disarming chalk artist who thinks nothing of erasing his dazzling work, and Nina, an idealistic teacher who struggles every day to make a lasting impact on her students. Wanting Collin to realize his full talent, Nina warily introduces him to her powerful father, who owns the most cutting edge virtual reality game company in the world. Add to this a brilliant but unstable pupil of Nina’s who is gaming obsessed, and you have contemporary life caught in the crosshairs by one of our most charming and socially astute literary voices.

The Chalk Artist Details

TitleThe Chalk Artist
Author
FormatKindle Edition
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherThe Dial Press
Number of pages352 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Romance, Did Not Finish, Family, Young Adult, Coming Of Age, Literature, American

The Chalk Artist Review

  • Elyse
    February 25, 2017
    For the past 34 years .....every August is the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts. In past years it has attracted 150,000 people. Besides the art exhibitors-music - and - food - one of the biggest crowd-pleasers is the Street-Painting Expo--gorgeous murals by 'Chalk Artist'. They're extraordinary. Larger than life creations -all weekend long. This August 60 'chalk artist' will be sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly. I attend every year - and every year I say the same thing, "how can the city just wash For the past 34 years .....every August is the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts. In past years it has attracted 150,000 people. Besides the art exhibitors-music - and - food - one of the biggest crowd-pleasers is the Street-Painting Expo--gorgeous murals by 'Chalk Artist'. They're extraordinary. Larger than life creations -all weekend long. This August 60 'chalk artist' will be sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly. I attend every year - and every year I say the same thing, "how can the city just wash away the artist's work"? "Aren't the artist's crushed"? In Allegra Goodman's New novel, "The Chalk Artist", when Collin James creates the backdrop for theater production, the boards get washed when the show ends. His art - wash away! We get to look at the theme 'temporary'. Given that -in life - we often like to strive towards keeping some control in our lives - there are times when we are shockingly awaken to how much control we don't have. Throughout this novel Allegra exams the nature of the beast --- ways of looking at temporary-ness....but I would have liked 'more'. I wish this theme was explored with all the characters. At the beginning of this story we begin to get to know Collin, a talented artist, pretty quickly. He works in a bar - Grendel's - in Cambridge- he's nice looking- flirts with the girls easily- seems comfortable in his own skin as a server, yet we know he's frustrated and lonely. He doesn't get paid a dime for the artwork he does at a community theater. His 'chalk art' gets wash away at the end of production. Collin has his eye on a young teacher who comes into the bar a couple times a week to grade papers. It's only a matter of time until he gets the girl to notice him.....'viva-la-melty'. Nina is the young - new teacher - teaching in a small diverse experimental school with no exams. It's a type of school that has a reputation for "out-of-the-box" kids: artistic, or austistic, kids with special gifts, and learning differences. She has her eye on Collin, too. Nina's father is the owner of "Arkadia" ...a popular video game company. The story is predicable in ares - Collin gets a job with Nina's father...and there will be some problems. ( of course - boyfriend working for the father) Nina lived with her grandparents until she was 4 years old. After her grandmother got sick, she went to live with her dad. Note: this is a side story -however.....I've read several books by Allegra Goodman, enjoying her 'side stories'.....description treasures'. I actually wished for more tales about the grandparents. I had a soft spot for them right away......but it was a 'side' story. Here's a 'description treasure' I liked from when Nina was just a tiny tot living with her grandmother. "Her grandparents talk to her in Russian and read Russian books. They beamed at Nina, spending all their warmth on her. Left to themselves they sat for hours without speaking. They were a pair of armored lizards; they were stone. Slowly, Nina's grandfather climbed the stairs, and slowly he descended. The stairs are carpeted dark green like moss, The walls papered with lilacs, the soaps in the bathroom carved like cabbage roses. Everything in your grandparents' house looked like something else. The boot scraper took the shape of a hedgehog, the throw pillows were embroidered cats. Even Nina's grandmother began to look like something else, the Blue Fairy in Nina's book." For some reason - I wanted more story of the grandmother- and she's not even in the story. But... its when my heart opened. Twin sixteen year olds - brother and sister Aidan and Diana were close. Aidan is hooked on the video game..... obsessively hooked. Lots of descriptions of the video game -conflicts and resolutions. Other characters in Collin's apt. building. Friends of his mother - teachers and students at the school. I usually LOVE Allegra Goodman's books - but this was just alright. I liked it--it had moments of 'Allegra Gems' ..... but the subject matter wasn't my favorite - yet.... I still enjoyed many 'parts'. 3.4Thank You Random House Publishing, Netgalley, and Allegra Goodman
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  • Larry H
    April 1, 2017
    Whether she intended it or not, I feel like Allegra Goodman's newest novel, The Chalk Artist , is two books in one.It's a love story of sorts between two dreamers who come from different backgrounds and share different perspectives on how to make their dreams come true. At the same time, it's also a look at the world of video gaming and virtual reality, and the way it pulls all different types of people into its wake. On the surface you wouldn't think that these two disparate halves could make Whether she intended it or not, I feel like Allegra Goodman's newest novel, The Chalk Artist , is two books in one.It's a love story of sorts between two dreamers who come from different backgrounds and share different perspectives on how to make their dreams come true. At the same time, it's also a look at the world of video gaming and virtual reality, and the way it pulls all different types of people into its wake. On the surface you wouldn't think that these two disparate halves could make a whole, but the end result is a tremendously compelling, beautifully written, slightly imperfect book.Collin is a tremendously talented artist who never felt like he belonged in art school. His preferred medium is chalk, and he's all too happy to create beautiful pictures and images to captivate viewers, only to erase them and start again. It's a philosophy he follows in life, too—nothing is really permanent. He's really biding his time, waiting tables, acting and designing in a theater company he and his roommate founded, and trying to figure out what the future holds.When Nina walks into his restaurant, he's immediately smitten. A Harvard graduate who is teaching as part of Teacher Corps, she wants to dazzle her students so they love literature and poetry as much as she does, but she can't seem to reach them or get them to pay attention to her. Although it takes her a while to let her guard down with Collin, she loves how his creativity and fearlessness has awakened her, and she hopes her practical nature will inspire him to do something real with his artistic talent.Nina is the daughter of a gaming and technology mogul whose video games are tremendously popular. His soon-to-be released game is revolutionizing the world of virtual reality, so in an effort to help Collin harness his talent in a practical way, she convinces her father to give Collin a try at his company, Arkadia. It's a move which energizes him but creates barriers—both real and artificial—in their relationship.Meanwhile, Arkadia is using some slightly questionable marketing tactics to raise the anticipation for its newest game, and a student at Nina's school, Aidan, gets caught up in both the game's incredibly dazzling magic and the painful realities that his obsession causes. It could prove dangerous not only to him, but to his twin sister, Diana, a student in Nina's class, and others.When I started reading The Chalk Artist , I couldn't understand why Goodman would want to muddy the waters of Collin and Nina's story with a completely unrelated thread about a teenage boy obsessed with virtual reality. But the more I read, the more I realized how this virtual world really served as a counterpoint to Nina's need for permanence and real reality, and there was so much more to this plotline than I first thought.Goodman's writing practically sings when she describes UnderWorld and Collin's art. Her imagery really felt as if it would be right at home in any fantasy novel, and it was unlike anything I've seen from her work to date. While Collin and Nina's story is definitely one you've seen before (and depending on your personality, you'll definitely prefer one character over the other), it still is compelling, and you hope that neither will do something stupid.Not everything works in the book—I felt that Aidan's sister was a little superfluous, and felt like the plot shifted back and forth a little too abruptly at times. But overall, I enjoyed this a great deal. I'm a big fan of books that embrace the power of dreams of all kinds. This book really solidified Goodman as a favorite author of mine, one whose deft hand has created some truly memorable characters through the years.NetGalley and Random House/The Dial Press provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available! See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
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  • Liz
    May 25, 2017
    I was a big fan of The Cookbook Collector, so I was anxious to read The Chalk Artist. Goodman’s writing has a bit of the poetic to it. Gorgeous descriptions. The story involves the love of two disparate souls. Collin is a talented artist but he doesn't have much in the way of ambition. Happy to hold down jobs that barely pay the way he drifts along. Nina is a first year teacher. She comes from a well to do background; her father owns a company that creates popular online fantasy games. She wants I was a big fan of The Cookbook Collector, so I was anxious to read The Chalk Artist. Goodman’s writing has a bit of the poetic to it. Gorgeous descriptions. The story involves the love of two disparate souls. Collin is a talented artist but he doesn't have much in the way of ambition. Happy to hold down jobs that barely pay the way he drifts along. Nina is a first year teacher. She comes from a well to do background; her father owns a company that creates popular online fantasy games. She wants to make a difference, including helping Collin land a real, meaningful job. Be careful what you wish for. Along with these two, we are introduced to a variety of other characters, including twins that are students of Nina’s. These other characters are primarily used to pursue the whole gaming world. Is it an addiction, no different than drugs or alcohol? I have to admit that while the segments on the gaming were beautifully written, they didn't hold my interest. I'm too old to have ever been involved in any sort of online game, so it's probably just my age. Plus, these segments have a twinge of fantasy to them, and I am not a fan of fantasy. At the beginning, I had trouble relating to any of the characters. Then, midway through the book, the plot changes and my interest piqued. Goodman’s writing soars as much as Collin’s artwork. Overall, a mixed bag. I loved the writing, but felt at a distance to the characters and only vaguely interested on one of the storylines. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Ron Charles
    June 13, 2017
    A surprisingly trite novel about the rocky romance between a graphic artist and a school teacher whose father owns one of the world's most lucrative online games. When the graphic artist gets a job drawing for her father's company, it seems like his big break has finally arrived. But the gamer company is unethical and abusive, and trouble ensues.Nothing here feels fresh, unfortunately. The teacher storyline is the usual "well-meaning teacher struggling to reach disadvantaged kids." And the gamer A surprisingly trite novel about the rocky romance between a graphic artist and a school teacher whose father owns one of the world's most lucrative online games. When the graphic artist gets a job drawing for her father's company, it seems like his big break has finally arrived. But the gamer company is unethical and abusive, and trouble ensues.Nothing here feels fresh, unfortunately. The teacher storyline is the usual "well-meaning teacher struggling to reach disadvantaged kids." And the gamer elements do nothing to brush away the cobwebs from Dungeons and Dragons. Goodman has been so witty and insightful about relationships and spirituality in her previous novels, but this is a miss.
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  • switterbug (Betsey)
    February 17, 2017
    The story of a romance and the obsessions of the video game community peripherally connect in Allegra Goodman’s latest novel. Privileged daughter, Nina, is a teacher in a tough Boston public school. Daughter of a video game CEO, she doesn’t ever need to work, but wants to make a difference in bringing literature to students. She falls in love with Collin, a struggling college dropout with a talent as a chalk artist. Much mention is made about the impermanence of his pictures—he erases his drawin The story of a romance and the obsessions of the video game community peripherally connect in Allegra Goodman’s latest novel. Privileged daughter, Nina, is a teacher in a tough Boston public school. Daughter of a video game CEO, she doesn’t ever need to work, but wants to make a difference in bringing literature to students. She falls in love with Collin, a struggling college dropout with a talent as a chalk artist. Much mention is made about the impermanence of his pictures—he erases his drawings right after he finishes them. The second story concerns Aiden, an intelligent but apathetic student of a single mother who works nights, and while she is gone, he spends those sleepless hours on his obsession—the virtual reality game that was created by Nina’s father and uncle. His twin sister, Diana, is his best friend, and covers for him while he ignores his studies, even allowing him to plagiarize her paper.The aspect that impressed me was Goodman’s ability to create a visually stunning world of Arkadia—EverWhen and an underworld of Elves, flamethrowers, fantastical horses, and a topography that really pops. I am not a gamer, and was wary of a novel that focused on this industry. But that was not my problem; in fact, delving into this netherworld was, in my opinion, the most engaging part of the novel. Goodman’s arresting Arkadia was appealing and not technical. It was presented mostly via the theme of obsession, and weighted more with the art and illustration side to it.The love story between Collin and Nina, however, was lukewarm and derivative. Rich girl gets poor boy job at daddy’s company, which seeds obvious conflicts. Love affair proceeds predictably, including the stumbles along the way. The theme of permanence vs. impermanence did offer some nuggets of insight, and helped to soften the other more obvious clichés.Even the intentional probity to Nina’s teaching skills and passion, and Collins challenges at Arkadia, seemed derivative. Goodman traded originality for platitudes, and organic moral complexity for sentimentality. I think the appropriate audience would be a YA crossover. If you have read a limited repertoire of love stories, this may appeal. Moreover, the virtual reality angle is a topical trend in some literature. Despite the flaws, I was periodically absorbed. It took about 90 pages to commit to the narrative, and accept the boilerplate romance. 2.75
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  • Dayle (the literary llama)
    May 24, 2017
    RATING: ★★★☆☆/ 3.5 multifaceted stars.REVIEW: If you follow my Instagram account then you might know that chalk art is kinda "my thing"...and if you don't follow my Instagram account, well, you're crazy! What are you doing with your life? I don't mean to toot my own horn here but, I'm kind of a big deal (or maybe that's just what my mom told me that one time right before she also told me I'm a crazy monkey). You know what? Nevermind, you do you, it's all good, no need to follow my Instagram.The RATING: ★★★☆☆/ 3.5 multifaceted stars.REVIEW: If you follow my Instagram account then you might know that chalk art is kinda "my thing"...and if you don't follow my Instagram account, well, you're crazy! What are you doing with your life? I don't mean to toot my own horn here but, I'm kind of a big deal (or maybe that's just what my mom told me that one time right before she also told me I'm a crazy monkey). You know what? Nevermind, you do you, it's all good, no need to follow my Instagram.The point I was trying to get to, is that chalk art and I aren't strangers, so when Random House asked me if I would like an early copy of THE CHALK ARTIST for review, I had to say yes! And I'm glad I did.Okay, a 3.5 star rating may seem low but actually this was a solid 4 star read for me up until one specific moment. It was actually an incredibly small, almost throw-away, moment that happened later in the book. One of the characters is walking through the park/woods when the author describes two pit bulls scent her and run at her, growling and red-eyed. They're not strays, in fact their owner comes up right behind them very nonchalant. Now once again, if you follow my Instagram, you may know that I am a huge pit bull and bully breed advocate. Specifically painting pit bulls as unprovoked-ly vicious (especially in a two sentence, non plot necessary, throw away) just doesn't sit well with me. If the author wanted to illustrate the owner's nature by using his dogs as a metaphor then I can understand, to a point, but it still didn't feel necessary because the owner was not a big, medium, or even small character. He was nearly nothing. And even still, I will push for a non-breed specific dog to be used. Bully breeds are so misunderstood as it is and these small moments just perpetuate a hateful and hurtful stereotype. So for that I mentally had to knock out half a star.Now, I'll have to shout it just as loud that this is not a reason to avoid this book! Because apart from the little blip (which you are now aware of and we can all move on), this was a 4 star book, all the way. As I was reading it, the best way I could think to describe it was to compare it to the film, LOVE, ACTUALLY. It was a weaving of stories, in which some characters connect directly and others indirectly, but the feeling was nearly the same as I get from the movie. Sweet and sad moments, some touching and others bittersweet. As well as a cast of characters that are flawed and struggling each in their own way. It was very easy to see yourself reflected in some of the cast that Goodman has written. ​​There are other comparisons to be drawn in this book (Goodman seems to like the underlying themes approach). The temporary nature of chalk art and even art beyond that as a reflection on the temporaries of our everyday lives. The wider range of ages being represented and how that may or may not translate to actual maturation. Ideals and realism in equal measure expressed by video games and teaching. There is a lot packed into this book and it's told very well. I became so entrenched in the story that I felt I couldn't read it fast enough. I wanted to start skipping ahead because I just needed to know what was happening faster (I didn't though, I read it page by page like a good little bibliophile...it was a near thing though). The author was able to piece together all these stories so incredibly well.Like the film I compared it to, THE CHALK ARTIST isn't filled with completely lovable characters or situations. Everything is a such an interesting mix of ups and downs...and yet it still manages to be enchanting. And that really is the pure talent of the author. It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but by the end, I felt happy, but most of all, hopeful. I think that was my biggest take away from this book. In the end, it's hopeful.
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  • Toni
    March 12, 2017
    Dreamers. Do you have a dreamer in your family? I hope so; I'm lucky to have several, mostly artists and musicians. They can be frustrating, intelligent, sometimes dropping out of college, but succeeding finally, and oh so talented. Our chalk artist is like that, Collin can draw anything, but he's not sure what to do with it. He meets Nina who's trying to make her mark as a high school English teacher. Her father is the brilliant, wealthy owner of the most popular gaming software in the world. O Dreamers. Do you have a dreamer in your family? I hope so; I'm lucky to have several, mostly artists and musicians. They can be frustrating, intelligent, sometimes dropping out of college, but succeeding finally, and oh so talented. Our chalk artist is like that, Collin can draw anything, but he's not sure what to do with it. He meets Nina who's trying to make her mark as a high school English teacher. Her father is the brilliant, wealthy owner of the most popular gaming software in the world. One of Nina's student's, Aidan, is obsessed with this fantasy world. Their lives converge bringing their talents and intelligence on a whirlwind course, barely and breathlessly to a winning finish. Recommend!Planning to listen to the audio the minute I receive it. When a book is this good it's such a pleasure to have someone read it to me! Thank you Netgalley.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    March 20, 2017
    via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“He grew so intent on capturing her that sometimes he felt he had to get away from her.”Some books remind you of things happening in your own life. With a daughter in college for Graphic Design and a son in college studying Game Design, the characters all felt familiar. Collin James is a chalk artist, he wipes away his art and it doesn’t last- nor does much else in his life. Naturally when Nina comes on the scene, love isn’t so easy to wash off. via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“He grew so intent on capturing her that sometimes he felt he had to get away from her.”Some books remind you of things happening in your own life. With a daughter in college for Graphic Design and a son in college studying Game Design, the characters all felt familiar. Collin James is a chalk artist, he wipes away his art and it doesn’t last- nor does much else in his life. Naturally when Nina comes on the scene, love isn’t so easy to wash off. She sees in him so much potential and the need to change him, but for his own good. Isn’t it time he uses his amazing talent to his own benefit? I remember a discussion from class my daughter shared with me about how the moment art is saved it will never be fresh, new. It alters the creation, particularly when it’s reproduced, commercialized. Certainly there was more to the conversation, but most of us cringe thinking of art being erased. It reminds me of the beautiful sand mandalas the Buddhist monks create and destroy, of course that has to do with enlightenment, so I digress. Collin creates without demands and expectations attached, until Nina- the daughter of a tech mogul who has the edge on virtual reality gaming, knows she can help him get in the door. While it’s who you know, he has a gift, a very useful one in creating anything that can be drawn.Nina is a school teacher, and while it’s true she could easily give up and still be safe with her family wealth, she truly cares about the job, the students. The problem is her freshness is the very thing students can smell and turn against. Enthusiastic or not, she isn’t reaching them, but Collin frees her and helps her find a new approach. He’s good for her, even if he doesn’t have ambitions, even if his apartment is squalid. Pushing him to work for her family company may sour their love, but if it’s helps him use his talent to make a life for himself, then it’s worth the risk. Nina doesn’t count on how much he will dive into the job, or the interest he will have in like minded co-workers. The company itself is like a wild beast, that may devour everything in it’s path, including the lovers.Now for the students. Aidan and Diana are twins, and understand each other in ways not even their mother can divine. So while her brother is able to fool others, nothing gets past his sister, especially his addiction to the very virtual world that Nina wants her boyfriend Collin to work for, that her father’s company created. His addiction is growing like a disease, and he is not just being manipulated by virtual beings. Diana and her brother have always protected each other but can she save him now? Particularly when she is so lost herself and wants nothing more than to disappear. Once the twins were both full of energy and involved in sports until Diana changed, her body growing out as Aidan grew up. No amount of her mother Kerry’s wishing can change the heaviness that has settled over her body, and her heart. “Words could not change anything. ‘You’re a beautiful girl’ was like saying God is good. You didn’t say these things because they were true, you said them because you hoped the universe would take pity on you.’ Will it? Will the universe take pity on any of the characters within?Using the students in this story works beautifully. It’s easy to cast your character as an idealistic teacher but better to show how her freshness rubs against the reality of students from backgrounds vastly different from her own. The ideal of a thing is always terrific, it’s the obstacles that are the problem. In fact, the same can be said for her vision for Collin. As Vikram Seth said, “God save us from people who mean well.” We step in it enough in our own lives to be thinking we can manage everyone else’s. Will Collin grow up? Will he use his artistry to finally be able to stand on his own or will he continue to wash away his days? Has Nina found her true calling in teaching, can she really reach these teens disinterested in dusty old literature, arts? Can you die of gaming addiction? Will Diana disappear or find herself? You’ll have to read to find out. For artists, gamers, misfits and anyone related to them.Publication Date: June 13, 2017Random HouseThe Dial Press
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  • Lisa
    February 20, 2017
    Unlike the official blurb, I didn't consider this story a love story. Certainly there is a boy-meets-girl aspect to it, but there are many characters and layers of meeting that elevate it beyond a relationship drama. The title: while our obvious "chalk artist" is Collin (the actual artist), my teacher-self immediately thought of idealistic teacher Nina as a "chalk artist" too. Certainly chalk gives us the idea of permanence and impermanence that weaves in and out of the different plot lines in t Unlike the official blurb, I didn't consider this story a love story. Certainly there is a boy-meets-girl aspect to it, but there are many characters and layers of meeting that elevate it beyond a relationship drama. The title: while our obvious "chalk artist" is Collin (the actual artist), my teacher-self immediately thought of idealistic teacher Nina as a "chalk artist" too. Certainly chalk gives us the idea of permanence and impermanence that weaves in and out of the different plot lines in the novel. Goodman has a wonderfully descriptive tone, especially when describing the gaming culture and online worlds. I wish that her characters got them same descriptive treatment, as I was often left wondering about their actions and thoughts. Even so, I was intrigued enough to finish this in just two days.I'm grateful to NetGalley for an advance copy in return for an honest review!
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  • Alicia
    May 20, 2017
    http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2017/05...Goodman is an author that I am generally into, though this one left me feeling a bit puzzled. It centers on an inter-related cast of characters in Cambridge, Massachusetts--a young teacher, her love interest (the titular artist), a couple of students at the school, and so on--and touches a bit on issues of class, though doesn't delve very deeply there. A lot of the action involves a new mmorpg that several characters are tied to, which is interesting. Basi http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2017/05...Goodman is an author that I am generally into, though this one left me feeling a bit puzzled. It centers on an inter-related cast of characters in Cambridge, Massachusetts--a young teacher, her love interest (the titular artist), a couple of students at the school, and so on--and touches a bit on issues of class, though doesn't delve very deeply there. A lot of the action involves a new mmorpg that several characters are tied to, which is interesting. Basically, I found all the characters here compelling--though they are all very young and very dumb--and enjoyed reading this novel, but the end left me wanting something more. B+.__A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in June.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    June 15, 2017
    I have enjoyed several of Goodman's previous novels deeply but this is the second miss in a row for me. Goodman is insightful and wise, she portrays characters in a way that feels absolutely real and intimate. But the story here lacked momentum, the stakes never solidified.There are several narratives here, and Goodman is talented as ever at allowing each character's personality and emotions to come through, to let you see them as very different people. Many of them are stereotypes: Collin the a I have enjoyed several of Goodman's previous novels deeply but this is the second miss in a row for me. Goodman is insightful and wise, she portrays characters in a way that feels absolutely real and intimate. But the story here lacked momentum, the stakes never solidified.There are several narratives here, and Goodman is talented as ever at allowing each character's personality and emotions to come through, to let you see them as very different people. Many of them are stereotypes: Collin the artist who lacks drive; Nina the rich girl who wants to do good; Aidan the teen obsessed by virtual worlds to the extent that he loses the real one. The characters were quite real but they didn't ever transcend their stereotypes or move the story in unexpected directions.At the center of everything are the two stories of Collin and Nina falling in love and trying to build a relationship together, and that of Underworld, a miraculous new video game from a disruptive gaming company run by Nina's father. I struggled with the technology around the game, it was beautifully written but in a very realistic story I just couldn't believe in it as a real thing and I couldn't picture in my head how it would actually be to play it even though Goodman would pontificate for paragraphs and paragraphs on the beauty of the scene it didn't become visible. It's also tricky to really engage with Collin's art, also described in passionate paragraphs, but that you never really get to see. It is hard to accept a character as a true artist or a genius just because other characters think so, which isn't a fault just with this novel but with many novels that consider art in different forms.Ultimately there was no answer to my question of why Goodman wrote this and what she wanted to do. What is the question she's answering? What is the purpose of the world she's exploring? I ended it feeling very unsatisfied.And one short note: I read The Cookbook Collector shortly after moving to Boston and remember noticing just how much it referenced the city and its landmarks to the extent that I commented on it to my partner, who told me I only noticed it because now I lived there and it wasn't really anything different. The Chalk Artist is also set there, mostly in Cambridge, and reading it gave me some very belated vindication. Goodman's references to places, streets, businesses, etc. is constant to the point that it's distracting to a reader who's familiar with the area because you stop paying attention to the narrative and start asking yourself, "Wait which intersection on Huron Ave is that?" If you are not a local, you probably won't notice it as you read, but people familiar with the Cambridge area may find it grating as I did.
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  • Patty
    June 23, 2017
    The Chalk ArtistByAllegra GoodmanWhat it's all about...So...we have quite a few interesting characters in this unique book. The most noticeable to me were Nina...a brand new teacher...Collin...an amazing artist...and Aidin...Nina's student and an amazing virtual game player. The virtual game just happens to be created by Nina's father and one that Collin is working on. He also has to work with Nina's uncle and that creates an area of turmoil for Collin. Oh...and Aidin has a twin sister with issu The Chalk ArtistByAllegra GoodmanWhat it's all about...So...we have quite a few interesting characters in this unique book. The most noticeable to me were Nina...a brand new teacher...Collin...an amazing artist...and Aidin...Nina's student and an amazing virtual game player. The virtual game just happens to be created by Nina's father and one that Collin is working on. He also has to work with Nina's uncle and that creates an area of turmoil for Collin. Oh...and Aidin has a twin sister with issues who will do anything she can to prevent him from playing this game.Why I wanted to read it...This book is unique and well written. It took me a while to really get into it but once I did I found it fascinating. What made me truly enjoy this book...The characters were flawed yet fascinating. That's really why I enjoyed this book so much. The virtual game playing parts of this book as well as Collin's unique drawings drew me in as well. This book was different...and I loved that about it. Why you should read it, too...Readers who love books that involve real life, flawed characters, and lots of virtual reality should enjoy this book.
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  • Brett Beach
    June 19, 2017
    I love The Cookbook Collector, but I found this new novel disappointing; the book seems oddly focused, and as a result, the plotting feels disjointed. Perhaps this book was over-edited--it at times reads so thin, one wonders at all that could have remained in the novel. For example, Diana's transformation occurs in small bursts that don't quite track. Collin's mother and her group of friends are sketched in, at best. Nina's relationship with her father--one of the more potentially interesting re I love The Cookbook Collector, but I found this new novel disappointing; the book seems oddly focused, and as a result, the plotting feels disjointed. Perhaps this book was over-edited--it at times reads so thin, one wonders at all that could have remained in the novel. For example, Diana's transformation occurs in small bursts that don't quite track. Collin's mother and her group of friends are sketched in, at best. Nina's relationship with her father--one of the more potentially interesting relationships in the book--is only hinted at. Peter, out of sheer lack of time on the page, comes off as villainous. Collin's final confrontation with the man was so bewildering, so out of nowhere, and wholly unearned, that the book lost me. Unfortunately, as well, most of the gaming read like the work of a studious, well-meaning older person who has DONE HER RESEARCH. Go back to some of Goodman's earlier novels; they are much better.
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  • M
    June 28, 2017
    I hate wish fulfillment books. They are lazy and unrelatable and just sad. Boy sees fabulously beautiful woman at the cafe where he works and falls in love. She turns out to be available and even more wonderful in person AND related to someone who can give the guy his dream job. This book made me want to vomit. Most uninteresting characters and plot ever. I think Allegra Goodman is one of the few authors I know who gets worse which each book.
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  • Elizabeth
    June 27, 2017
    When we meet Nina and Collin, we don't quite know enough about each of them to know if their "meet cute" will wind up in misery or joy. Nina is a first year teacher who doesn't really have to teach. Her father is the CEO of a famous video game production company and prior to that there was family money that also would have kept Nina comfortable. She is determined to teach and have an impact on young high school students the way some of her teachers influenced her. Collin is a bartender and is an When we meet Nina and Collin, we don't quite know enough about each of them to know if their "meet cute" will wind up in misery or joy. Nina is a first year teacher who doesn't really have to teach. Her father is the CEO of a famous video game production company and prior to that there was family money that also would have kept Nina comfortable. She is determined to teach and have an impact on young high school students the way some of her teachers influenced her. Collin is a bartender and is an extremely talented artist - namely with chalk. He struggles with his identity as an artist and how he can fit into the world with his particular talent - and unlike Nina, he came from a modest upbringing. While it may seem like a romance on the surface, the book has an entirely different story as well - about gaming, virtual reality, the marketing of the gaming world and its impact on society. The novel is really about the connections between the students and Nina, Collin and the gaming world. Twins Diana and Aidan figure are high school students who once were close but who have lost some of their connection in high school. Aidan is addicted to gaming and Diana is struggling with becoming her own person as a teen. (As usual, there is a clueless parent who can't quite seem to make a decision despite knowing what she does about her child's addiction.) The ways in which Aidan is manipulated by people in the gaming world, Diana is manipulated by her brother, Collin is manipulated by his eventual employer...these all become focal points beyond the initial romance of Collin and Nina. It mostly works with a few hiccups. As the novel continues, it becomes more compelling and engaging even as the book becomes something other than what you might have expected. I received a free e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of this book.
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  • Eva • All Books Considered
    June 1, 2017
    Review originally posted at All Books Considered: 3 STARS This was one of the most unique and intriguing books I've ever read. I'm still not even sure what happened in it. The blurb is, mostly, correct but it doesn't tell you anywhere close to all of the facets in this book. Nor does the blurb detail these very important if stringent magical realism chapters of the book that take place as if you were playing a highly realized video game. It was an odd sensation and I didn't know where it was go Review originally posted at All Books Considered: 3 STARS This was one of the most unique and intriguing books I've ever read. I'm still not even sure what happened in it. The blurb is, mostly, correct but it doesn't tell you anywhere close to all of the facets in this book. Nor does the blurb detail these very important if stringent magical realism chapters of the book that take place as if you were playing a highly realized video game. It was an odd sensation and I didn't know where it was going at first; I may still not know where it is going. This book had a lot of parts and I didn't care about them equally and I'm not sure that all of them worked. What did work for me was Collin and Nina - not just together but apart - These characters were the kind I could read about all day because they were so well developed and complex. However, I didn't always love the chapters in the game - these were easy to skim even if highly (overly?) descriptive. The way the author tried to make various parts of the book come together fell a bit short to me but I still count this book as a success because it was weird and so different. Definitely going to check out this author's past and future works.The Chalk Artist comes out later this month on June 13, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. This book intrigued me enough to want to read more from this author! A stranger had been telling his secrets, publishing his dreams before he was born.
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  • Karen Gail Brown
    June 14, 2017
    "The Chalk Artist" is charming: a love story, a neighborhood story of family and friends and at the center is the chalk artist. "The Chalk Artist is also difficult to review.Collin is an artist and he does most of his art in chalk. When the book opens, he is working as a waiter at Grendel's, a restaurant/ bar in old Cambridge. He has dropped out of school (again). In addition to Grendel's, he also does backgrounds in chalk for an offbeat theater group that uses Collin's chalk drawings on blackbo "The Chalk Artist" is charming: a love story, a neighborhood story of family and friends and at the center is the chalk artist. "The Chalk Artist is also difficult to review.Collin is an artist and he does most of his art in chalk. When the book opens, he is working as a waiter at Grendel's, a restaurant/ bar in old Cambridge. He has dropped out of school (again). In addition to Grendel's, he also does backgrounds in chalk for an offbeat theater group that uses Collin's chalk drawings on blackboards as their only props.Nina is a school teacher (American Literature) who grades her papers one or two nights a week at Grendel's. After Collin (finally) asks her out, they become infatuated with each other rather quickly. Nina hesitates to introduce Collin to her father, and when she does and her father sees Collin's art, he offers him a job drawing horses for his computer game company.From this point, a lot of the story involves the dangers of excessive computer gaming. But there is also their love story; Nina's frustrations trying to become a good teacher; Collin's coming to grips with the doings at his job; a high school boy obsessed with gaming but with abilities and intelligence to do much more.I highly recommend "The Chalk Artist".
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  • Holly
    June 20, 2017
    This book is a lot of things all at the same time. It's a love story, it's about obsessions, about coming of age, parenthood and a host of other emotional responses to life. There are some momentous passages in the book that allow the reader to experience the subject at hand with so many senses. Goodman can light up your mind with her words that evoke sight and sound, etc. Then there are some truly memorable passages where she combines poetry with interplay between a teacher and student that spe This book is a lot of things all at the same time. It's a love story, it's about obsessions, about coming of age, parenthood and a host of other emotional responses to life. There are some momentous passages in the book that allow the reader to experience the subject at hand with so many senses. Goodman can light up your mind with her words that evoke sight and sound, etc. Then there are some truly memorable passages where she combines poetry with interplay between a teacher and student that speak to the fragility of the teenage psyche. All that said, the book doesn't seem to come together for me as a coherent whole. She's a delightful writer but leaves disparate story lines to meld in a rather abrupt manner which didn't really work for me. Each story line works but their intersections are lacking and sometimes seem forced. I wouldn't discourage reading this book but not sure it's one I would recommend wholeheartedly either.
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  • Jt O'Neill
    July 1, 2017
    I actually didn't finish the book as it wasn't holding my attention and there are too many other books courting me. I'd read the reviews on The Chalk Artist and was eagerly looking forward to reading it. I was captured in the first fifty pages but then things shifted and I found myself disengaged. I suspect some of it is that I am not well acquainted with the world of online gaming and when that element began to play a larger role in the book I fell away. The writing is descriptive but I am not I actually didn't finish the book as it wasn't holding my attention and there are too many other books courting me. I'd read the reviews on The Chalk Artist and was eagerly looking forward to reading it. I was captured in the first fifty pages but then things shifted and I found myself disengaged. I suspect some of it is that I am not well acquainted with the world of online gaming and when that element began to play a larger role in the book I fell away. The writing is descriptive but I am not a big fantasy fan so it would have been a miracle if the story could have held my attention. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters that had been introduced. Again, maybe it's because they didn't speak to my own experience but I just didn't care enough about them to continue reading the story. I think Ms Goodman's writing is strong and descriptive but perhaps the subject is just not my style.
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  • Bonny
    June 29, 2017
    The Chalk Artist started off interestingly enough, but my initial interest didn't last very long. I enjoyed reading about Collin, a chalk artist and waiter, who seemed reasonably happy with his life despite everyone around him telling him that he should be and do more. After the opening pages, it quickly fell apart into an unfocused, seemingly random series of snippets about video games, virtual reality, a teacher trying to reach her students, a teenage girl suffering from angst and confusion, a The Chalk Artist started off interestingly enough, but my initial interest didn't last very long. I enjoyed reading about Collin, a chalk artist and waiter, who seemed reasonably happy with his life despite everyone around him telling him that he should be and do more. After the opening pages, it quickly fell apart into an unfocused, seemingly random series of snippets about video games, virtual reality, a teacher trying to reach her students, a teenage girl suffering from angst and confusion, and bits about the interrelated characters with no transitions or depth. I enjoy playing video games, and have even watched my kids play on occasion, but for me, reading endless decriptions of the characters in The Chalk Artist playing a video game was more painful than waiting in line at the DMV.Book Bingo 2017 - About art/artist(s)
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  • Mary
    May 3, 2017
    I received this as an ARC through Netgalley. Firstly, I was a little hesitant to read this. I tried reading "The Cookbook Collector" a couple of years ago and couldn't get into it. I have kept hearing though that I needed to give Goodman's work a chance. Overall, I enjoyed this. The main characters were believable and human. There was a good balance too between the number of character's stories we heard too, not too much not too little. I think the weakest link in the story is actually Arkadia. I received this as an ARC through Netgalley. Firstly, I was a little hesitant to read this. I tried reading "The Cookbook Collector" a couple of years ago and couldn't get into it. I have kept hearing though that I needed to give Goodman's work a chance. Overall, I enjoyed this. The main characters were believable and human. There was a good balance too between the number of character's stories we heard too, not too much not too little. I think the weakest link in the story is actually Arkadia. It allowed Collin to grow a bit as a character, but I don't think it lent as much to the story as Goodman was hoping. It was the conflict in a way, but it was also a detraction from parts of the story that were much more interesting. I also felt the ending wasn't complete. There was more work that the characters needed at the end of the Arkadian vein. I think though after finishing this, I may give "The Cookbook Collector" another shot.
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  • Brooke
    June 24, 2017
    I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a really interesting book that focuses on a few different characters - but all are connected to Arkadia, a company that makes MMORPGs (think Blizzard and World of Warcraft). As someone who loves video games, this book was very interesting to me, and it was very well-written. I was hooked early on and eagerly awaited the pay-off. However, I felt that the ending just kind of happened... I wanted more - not necessarily a resol I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a really interesting book that focuses on a few different characters - but all are connected to Arkadia, a company that makes MMORPGs (think Blizzard and World of Warcraft). As someone who loves video games, this book was very interesting to me, and it was very well-written. I was hooked early on and eagerly awaited the pay-off. However, I felt that the ending just kind of happened... I wanted more - not necessarily a resolution, but it felt like the climax of the book just never really happened. I would still rate it at 3.5 stars and would recommend it to others.
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  • Karin Foster
    June 27, 2017
    I loved "The Cookbook Collector", so I couldn't wait to read Allegra Goodman's new book. I liked it. It was fine. I can see suggesting it to teens (it's not YA), but I personally found it disappointing. The book is described by some as "Romance", but it's really more about relationships. Aside from the overall story, the new teacher and teacher evaluation sections bothered me. It shouldn't be surprising that a new teacher struggles if prepared by some "We'll make you teacher in a few months" pro I loved "The Cookbook Collector", so I couldn't wait to read Allegra Goodman's new book. I liked it. It was fine. I can see suggesting it to teens (it's not YA), but I personally found it disappointing. The book is described by some as "Romance", but it's really more about relationships. Aside from the overall story, the new teacher and teacher evaluation sections bothered me. It shouldn't be surprising that a new teacher struggles if prepared by some "We'll make you teacher in a few months" program. Also, the student ratings of a high school teacher's "performance" just didn't ring true...at least that's not how things work where I teach. Could be very good for some, but only meh for me.
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  • Christa Sigman
    June 22, 2017
    I just don't know about this one. At times I was compelled to keep reading and not put it down. At times, I was so frustrated I thought about not finishing it. There is really potential for a series in this book based on each of the characters. There is so much going on and so many threads it was both intriguing and maddening. At any point in reading this I could have given it two stars and then fifty pages later given it five. I guess it was a good book in that it has me perplexed and still thi I just don't know about this one. At times I was compelled to keep reading and not put it down. At times, I was so frustrated I thought about not finishing it. There is really potential for a series in this book based on each of the characters. There is so much going on and so many threads it was both intriguing and maddening. At any point in reading this I could have given it two stars and then fifty pages later given it five. I guess it was a good book in that it has me perplexed and still thinking about it. Truly unlike anything else I have read. It is labeled a Romance. Yes, but it could also be fantasy, general fiction, and slightly mystery. Strange.
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  • Robin Meadows
    June 27, 2017
    Allegra Goodman can write beautifully and she does in the beginning of this book, as well as here and there in the rest of the book. But in many places, description outweighs the storyline, which is so slight it needs all the help it can get. Goodman is a master at the short story form and has written some wonderful books of interlinked short stories. This book felt like a bunch of short stories mixed together, which wasn't very satisfying. I think it would have been better if she had written it Allegra Goodman can write beautifully and she does in the beginning of this book, as well as here and there in the rest of the book. But in many places, description outweighs the storyline, which is so slight it needs all the help it can get. Goodman is a master at the short story form and has written some wonderful books of interlinked short stories. This book felt like a bunch of short stories mixed together, which wasn't very satisfying. I think it would have been better if she had written it as actual short stories that added up to a bigger story, as she has done before.
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  • Robin
    June 23, 2017
    I love to read and I read quickly. Even so, the fact that I finished "The Chalk Artist" in less than a day says a lot about how much I liked it. Although set in a vastly different realm (or realms) than "Kaaterskill Falls" -- my favorite Goodman novel -- the idea of families coming to terms with changes is still very much present here, as it was in "Kaaterskill." I found the main characters in "The Chalk Artist" to be strong (in varying ways, of course), but not off-putting. Except for Peter. He I love to read and I read quickly. Even so, the fact that I finished "The Chalk Artist" in less than a day says a lot about how much I liked it. Although set in a vastly different realm (or realms) than "Kaaterskill Falls" -- my favorite Goodman novel -- the idea of families coming to terms with changes is still very much present here, as it was in "Kaaterskill." I found the main characters in "The Chalk Artist" to be strong (in varying ways, of course), but not off-putting. Except for Peter. He's a jerk :-)
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  • Kathleen Gray
    June 19, 2017
    I've read all of Allegra Goodman's novels and their subject matter has varied widely. I found this one most interesting for the insight into the virtual reality/gaming world and how obsessed people can become with it. The characters- Nina, Collin, Daphne, Diana, Aidan, and so on- are all well drawn and believable. Sometimes they are quite exasperating; this is a novel of young people who don't always make the most thoughtful decisions. There is some romance here but it's not the focus of the plo I've read all of Allegra Goodman's novels and their subject matter has varied widely. I found this one most interesting for the insight into the virtual reality/gaming world and how obsessed people can become with it. The characters- Nina, Collin, Daphne, Diana, Aidan, and so on- are all well drawn and believable. Sometimes they are quite exasperating; this is a novel of young people who don't always make the most thoughtful decisions. There is some romance here but it's not the focus of the plot. It's a smart book and one I admired. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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  • Judy
    June 26, 2017
    This book was about a gamer, a game artist, a teacher who was the daughter of the game originator and the gamer's family. It was an engrossing story and I liked/had sympathy for all the characters. The one thing I found sort of annoying was the incredibly deep detail that the author went into about the actual games that the gamer played. I could have done with a little less detail but maybe the author felt that was the only way to make her point about how engrossing and addicting gaming is.
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  • Emily
    June 18, 2017
    As always, Ms. Goodman knocked it out of the park. Excellent characters and an intriguing alternate reality make this something greater than a love story - really more of a loneliness story - which feels so perfectly of the moment."There was nothing he could do, and nothing he could say. He could not explain what he felt, even to himself, the mix of hopelessness and grace."
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  • Amy
    June 25, 2017
    This had its moments but overall was disappointing. For me it had way too much detail about gaming which just didn't do it for me. And Collin was such an unappealing character, I did not care what happened with him. Diana was pretty great though, I wish there had been more focus on her.
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