Haunted by three thousand years of artists who made pilgrimage to the Eternal City, collaborators Elizabeth Cooperman and Thomas Walton gather impressions from the ruinous streets in and around Rome. The result is a literary mosaic that aligns itself with the ecstatic baroque of Bernini, the concentrated vision of Caravaggio, and the sublime uncertainty of Keats, as it resists the forces of “another dark age.”
Dazzling with image and anecdote, with comedy and cobblestones, with headless statues and the bright robes of street performers, with shadow and cicada and shock of light, The Last Mosaic is an aesthetic call to arms to “listen,” a battle cry to “be impressed,” and a plea to “get lost.”
“Most current discussion in American literary culture regarding fragmentation, collage, bricolage, braided narrative, etc. is blinkered by the illusion that these are uniquely contemporary gestures, but they go back to at least Heraclitus and probably to the first human who etched a list of words on stone and, for poetic effect, forgot to complete the list. To be human is to be broken. The Last Mosaic not only explains these ideas; it embodies them. It’s also extremely vivid, precise, smart, and galvanizing. ‘With great art there’s nothing that can prepare you for the thing you’re about to see.’ "
—David Shields, author of Other People: Takes and Mistakes
“In this tessellated text we encounter a fractal poetics: juxtaposing witticisms and vignettes that illuminate Roman art and culture, the authors reveal, ‘when you look close enough, there’s nothing that isn’t a cracked assemblage.’ Whether we’re peering at the strokes on a Caravaggio, excavating cobblestones, or looking more broadly at cities, travel, partnership, and time, we see that life is a series of shards that come together. A fragmented travelogue, The Last Mosaic musters art history, mythology, etymology, poetry, and humor, summoning the ghosts of Shelley, Keats, Giotto, Nero, and their kindred to a museum whose vivid lines resonate like the cicada’s song.”
—Amaranth Borsuk, author of Pomegranate Eater