Gerald Jay Goldberg





Edition History:

The Viking Press, NY, 1982.
(Jacket design by Carol Wald)

“The best 20th-century novel about an artist,” Peter Plagens in Art News Centennial Issue (November 2002)

The story of the artist, Dan Asher, esteemed once but now out of fashion, and the hunt of the private detective, Henry Tattersall, for a stolen Rembrandt painting. Set largely in the Los Angeles of the turbulent sixties, the novel teems with love and sex, crooks and peacenicks, a rage to live and a sprint to death. Asher’s collages are miniatures; Heart Payments is a large retrospective of his art, his life.



--[starred review] Goldberg’s collage-novel is an exquisite work in which each bit, each piece, each person, springs to life and is unforgettable.
West Coast Review of Books (May 24, 1982)

--Gerald Jay Goldberg’s marvelously entertaining novel Heart Payments is many things, among them: a wonderful textured evocation of the L.A. art scene of the late 1960s; a mystery revolving around the theft of a famous Rembrandt from the Los Angeles County Museum; a dimensional portrait of a middle-aged artist in love with all life and in particular women; a successful rendering of the artist’s sensibility; a funny and poignant romance; and a parable on the nature of art itself. Add that the book is assembled in shards and swatches of prose that flash back and forward in time with the witty juxtaposition of one of its hero’s carefully assembled collages, and you begin to convey the intelligence and enjoyment contained by this delightful assemblage….Satiric and lyrical, precise and elusive, Heart Payments--like one of Dan Asher’s pocket universes--simply and wonderfully is.
Tom Nolan, “An Artful Mystery and Much More,”
Los Angeles Herald Examiner (May 2, 1982)

--a compelling and moving story.
Publishers Weekly (December 11, 1981)

--The novel-as-collage is a risky proposition--usually more distracting than evocative in its fragmented juxtaposition--but Goldberg has two things going for him in this surprisingly cohesive assemblage. First of all there’s the sharp, tart zest of his prose--which means that almost every piece of the puzzle here is rewarding all by itself. Second, and most important, there’s the fact that most of this book is about Daniel Asher, a Los Angeles artist obsessed with the collage form….The jig-saw puzzle is presented with just the right challenging, teasing seductiveness; the ugly world of art-biz gamesmanship (the envy, the humiliations) is vivid, scarred; and Goldberg’s unusual blend of downbeat irony with open-throated romanticism delivers a large number of unexpectedly affecting moments…like one of Asher’s small-scale collages--oddly haunting overall and amusing or entrancing in many of its details.
Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 1981)

--Part mystery, part contemporary slice of life, Heart Payments tells, in fragmented flashbacks, the intertwined stories of Daniel Asher, creator of miniature collages, and Henry Tattersall, private eye….A solidly written novel with complex and satisfying characterization.
Library Journal (December 1, 1981)

--The novel covers the period from 1966 to 1976, catching at one and the same time the revolutionary fervor of the anti-Vietnam demonstrations, the heavy overcast of Southern California decadence, and the sleazy rapacity of the art underworld. In a nation coming apart the two central characters represent something of a bulwark, throwbacks to the code-hero of the thirties and forties, battered but possessed of a solid core of integrity. Some of Goldberg’s best prose evokes the spiritual loneliness of this angry and battered survivor….The juxtaposition of California modishness, contemporary superficiality, the verities of art and creativity, the poignancy of aging, the profundity of middle-aged self evaluation make Heart Payments something more than an ordinary chase thriller. It is a surprisingly haunting and profound meditation on mortality.
Bernard Weinstein
Bestsellers (April 1982)

--It is a demanding work, constantly jarring, but the plights of artist and investigator, antagonists in effect, offer memorable humor and poignancy.
Booklist (December 1, 1981)

--Gerald Goldberg’s ingeniously written fiction revolves around a Rembrandt painting that has been stolen from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Artist Dan Asher is suspect number one in the mind of private eye Henry Tattersall, “a 19th-century detective in a 21st-century megalopolis”…. As Tattersall sleuths around trying to get the goods on the missing Rembrandt, there are wonderful conjurings of art world crooks and their low deals at high prices. Heart Payments is a fine deal of a novel.
Rosemarie Stewart
San Diego Magazine (February, 1982)

--For those who were part of those heady days [the 60s], Heart Payments may force a look past the easy memories to ones with philosophical conflicts still unresolved. Yet Goldberg’s skill will make the look itself pure pleasure. Like his character Asher, who “relished remarkable things happening matter of factly,” Goldberg has created a book to be savored in process and mourned at ending. Heart Payments is a magical work of art.
Subie Green
Fort Worth Star Telegram (February 23, 1982)

--The writing in Heart Payments is splendid, the imagery inspired and the characters wonderfully real.
Rich Hood
The Kansas City Star (February 7, 1982)

--If the nature of modern life is fragmentation, the characteristic art form is collage--the artist’s rearranging of the fragments so that they fuse into something new, orderly, perhaps even beautiful. Such is the strategy of this story of Dan Asher, a collage artist, whose fragmented life is revealed to us, appropriately, in the form of a collage. The plot hinges on a single mysterious event, the theft of a Rembrandt painting [and Henry Tattersall, the private investigator called in to find it.]….It’s in the wonderful linking of private eye and artist that the novel strikes sparks (and illuminates the power and popularity of the figure of the private eye, showing him to be a collage-artist, creating order and educing motive out of the mysterious fragments of the violent world.) Asher and Tattersall are kin--solitary and lonely--out of step with the rest of society, but possessed of a deep sense of morality in their obsession with creating order out of debris and finding a new path through the ruins.
Michael Hutchison
Chicago Tribune (April 18, 1982)


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