A spellbinding new talent explores the dark side of creativity through the stories of thirteen tragic architects
‘What a sensible, intelligent and beautiful book’ Stefan Hertmans, author of War and Turpentine
In thirteen chapters, Belgian poet Charlotte Van den Broeck goes in search of buildings that were fatal for their architects – architects who either killed themselves or are rumoured to have done so. They range across time and space from a church with a twisted spire built in seventeenth-century France to a theatre that collapsed mid-performance in 1920s Washington, DC., and an eerily sinking swimming pool in her hometown of Turnhout.
Drawing on a vast range of material, from Hegel and Charles Darwin to art history, stories from her own life and popular culture, patterns gradually come into focus, as Van den Broeck asks: what is that strange life-or-death connection between a creation and its creator?
Threaded through each story, and in prose of great essayistic subtlety, Van den Broeck meditates on the question of suicide – what Albert Camus called the ‘one truly serious philosophical problem’ – in relation to creativity and public disgrace. The result is a profoundly idiosyncratic book, breaking new ground in literary non-fiction, as well as providing solace and consolation – and a note of caution – to anyone who has ever risked their hand at a creative act.