Author Talk by Myla Goldberg

Feast Your Eyes: A Novel

Tuesday, May 26 at 2:00 P.M. on Zoom

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Feast Your Eyes

- 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Finalist
- 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

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 a bestselling novelist whose books have been named finalists for the National Book Critics’ Circle award, the Carnegie Medal, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award, the NYPL Young Lions award, and the Barnes & Noble Discover award.  She writes and teaches in Brooklyn.


Learn more about Feast Your Eyes

“Myla Goldberg’s ambitious new novel, her first since “The False Friend” (2010), follows a fictional midcentury photographer whose pioneering oeuvre draws from the real-life work of Sally MannDiane Arbus and Berenice Abbott, and whose milieu — the Lower East Side of the 1950s; Brooklyn in the 1960s — offers a lively fictional counterpart to the Beat movement.”

Continue reading Joanna Rakoff’s review in New York Times:


What real-life photographers did you draw inspiration from for Lillian’s work?

In the back of the book, in the acknowledgements, I give a gigantic list. So when I say “steal,” I wasn’t stealing as in anonymous theft. All art is about borrowing and making it your own. And so, I always think it’s really important to credit is where credit is due, and to just acknowledge everyone. The two biggies were Vivian Maier and Garry Winogrand. Running a close second would be Louis Faurer and Helen Levitt. And Sally Mann was massive, and Diane Arbus.

Read more in an article in Kveller entitled “This New Novel Portrays Illegal Abortions in an Incredibly Honest Way”

“The book began with this idea of, how do you be both? How do you be both an artist and a parent? And so I looked at, I was reading a lot of biographies of artists ... I was reading about all of these choices, and so I guess the photograph started from that idea. Also started from the idea that I knew I wanted to write about abortion. We're talking the '50s, that's pre-Roe v. Wade, and I'm a child of the post-Roe v. Wade era. I read a book called The Choices We Made that the first half of it was personal essays by famous, successful women, who gave their names, they were not anonymous, talking about their illegal abortions. And basically, if you were an ambitious woman of that era, you had an abortion, and so reading about that, I knew that this was a huge part of the story.”

Listen to more in this NPR interview with Goldberg:


Visit the author’s website at: