How WOULD YOU react to someone else's mental disintegration? How would you attempt to retain some grip on reality? And what is 'real' anyway? What I Loved, Siri Hustvedt's complex third novel, opens with its narrator, art historian Leo Hertzberg, discovering five letters which altered forever the relationship between the magnetic painter Bill Wechsler and his muse and mistress, Violet. The ensuing book is more than just a tribute to his dear friends: it is also Leo's attempt to find meaning in, and make sense of, his life and the losses he has endured, especially in the light of his increasingly tortured relationship with Bill's mentally ill son. Despite a penchant for ambiguity, and a growing realisation that being alive is inexplicable, Leo betrays an all-too human craving for clarity.
Leo is the first person, apart from Bill's mother, to buy one of Bill's paintings. Out of this a tkiendship blossoms between the men as they, with their wives, rent apartments above each other in Lower Manhattan, discuss art and the creative drive, have sons in the same year, and