The first novel in nearly a decade from Myla Goldberg, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season—a compelling and wholly original story about a female photographer grappling with ambition and motherhood, a balancing act familiar to women of every generation.
Feast Your Eyes, framed as the catalogue notes from a photography show at the Museum of Modern Art, tells the life story of Lillian Preston: “America’s Worst Mother, America’s Bravest Mother, America’s Worst Photographer, or America’s Greatest Photographer, depending on who was talking.” After discovering photography as a teenager through her high school’s photo club, Lillian rejects her parents’ expectations of college and marriage and moves to New York City in 1955. When a small gallery exhibits partially nude photographs of Lillian and her daughter Samantha, Lillian is arrested, thrust into the national spotlight, and targeted with an obscenity charge. Mother and daughter’s sudden notoriety changes the course of both of their lives and especially Lillian’s career as she continues a life-long quest for artistic legitimacy and recognition.
Narrated by Samantha, Feast Your Eyes reads as a collection of Samantha’s memories, interviews with Lillian’s friends and lovers, and excerpts from Lillian’s journals and letters—a collage of stories and impressions, together amounting to an astounding portrait of a mother and an artist dedicated, above all, to a vision of beauty, truth, and authenticity.
Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of Feast Your Eyes, The False Friend, Wickett’s Remedy, and Bee Season, which was a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Borders New Voices Prize, and a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award, the NYPL Young Lions award, and the Barnes & Noble Discover award. It was adapted to film and widely translated. In addition to her novels, she has written an essay collection, a children’s book, and short stories that have appeared in Harper’s. She teaches in the fiction programs at Sarah Lawrence and NYU and has been known to sing and play accordion and banjo in the Brooklyn art-punk band The Walking Hellos. She was also the subject of a song by The Decemberists, “Song for Myla Goldberg.” She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jason Little and their two daughters.
"The action in Feast Your Eyes unfurls entirely in program notes for a retrospective of Lillian's work in the Modern Museum of Art — expect a mix of letters, analysis of Lillian's photographs, and commentary from Samantha, who's curating the exhibit. Through this collage comes a gripping portrait of Lillian: a fierce mother, a fierce artist, and a woman crucified for both." —Refinery 29
“A mother-daughter story, an art-monster story, and an exciting structural gambit.” —Lit Hub
“From Bee Season (2000) onward, Goldberg has portrayed girls and young women with fluent sensitivity. In her brilliantly structured fourth novel, she revisits the theme again, in the story of photographer Lillian Preston, who, chronically shy yet determined, flees Cleveland for New York in 1953 at 17 and becomes an accidental single mother at 19… This is a novel of infinite depth, of caring authenticity both intimate and societal, of mothers and daughters, art and pain, and transcendent love.” —Booklist, STARRED
“A riveting portrait of an artist who happens to be a woman.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED
“This story is feminist at its core ... A strong book club pick." —Library Journal
“Goldberg evocatively profiles a brilliant woman whose identities—as woman, artist, and mother—are inseparable from one another… a memorable portrait of one artist’s life.” —Publishers Weekly
“Reading Myla Goldberg’s Feast Your Eyes reminded me of other unlikely adventure stories, like Hillary’s summit of the Himalayas, or Shackleton’s return from Antarctica. Only here the human constraints are still more challenging: making art as a single mother in a twentieth century dominated, and distorted, by men. This is an unflinching, deeply moving portrait of the artist, and a bravura performance in and of itself. I loved this book.” —Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour