Edward Dolnick is author of Down the Great Unknown, Madness on the Couch, The Rescue Artist, The Forger's Spell, The Clockwork Universe and his latest work America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853. A former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, he has written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He has two grown sons and lives with his wife near Washington, D.C.
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Edward Dolnick talks about the world of art and art heists, and about Charley Hill, the fascinating, real-life art detective he profiles in The Rescue Artist.
Q: It is easy to see how you would have become so fascinated by Charles
Hill. Did you admire him? Were you ever afraid of him, or for him?
A: I did come to admire Charley Hill. He's a principled man in a rough business. But what a writer wants in a subject isn't sterling character - it's depth, complexity, contradiction. You want someone you know is going to surprise you, because you're going to be spending every day together for a couple of years. Not face-to-face time, but time thinking and writing and knocking heads. I was never afraid of Charley, but it's hard not to be afraid for him at times. He likes taking chances, and his world is not a video game.
Q: What is your own relationship to great art? What kind of importance do you feel that it holds in the world? Do you ever feel that the value of these paintings is over-inflated?
A: I'm an art-lover but a long, long way from an expert. Is great art important? It's vastly important, although it's hard to talk about why that is without sounding silly. Why does music move us? How can ...
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