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.
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