Berkley, $22.95, ISBN 0-425-18337-8
Contemporary Fiction, 2002
Cintra Wilson, from her book A Massive Swelling, has this to say:
I find it to be generally true that the people with the most hateful, inhumane, intolerant politics are suckers for the most obscene forms of guileless sentimental exploitation; there’s something about the love of handguns and Jesus and Old Glory, astronauts and unborn children that makes a lot of fat, racist, ultraconservative hicks want to get all choked up in front of some whacked-out, self-worshipping bloatus of an entertainer in a full body tiara singing ‘Born Free’.
I wonder if I can get Cintra Wilson to meet Thomas Kinkade. I will testify in her defense if she takes up her pen and stabs Mr Kinkade’s ego-bloated “Painter of Light, Trademark My Ass” heart with it.
I don’t understand the whole Thomas Kinkade phenomena. His paintings are pretty in an inane, banal way, filled with too vivid shades of red, oranges, yellow and purple. His few landscapes with people are filled with handsome, all-blond or lightly brown haired All-American Aryan prototypes that reek of White Supremacy KKK sentiments. His purely landscape works are as deep as a cartoon fantasia. But tag his Christianity on his works and all the weirdo fans come out of the woodworks to claim that he is the new Picasso or Michelangelo or Rembrandt.
And now, he has paid his ghostwriter Katherine Spencer to write an “Old Glory, Simple Christian Values” book, the start of a vile exploitative publishing empire that makes the likes of Nicholas Sparks look like the new Hemingway. In Cape Light, a book I borrowed from the library out of sheer macabre fascination, doesn’t disappoint. It will make the fans even more ecstatic as they waste their live savings on the stupid Kinkade Village houses they are building in the name of the Kinkade Corporation. It will give people, like me, a million ammunitions to hate this self-styled Painter of Light (Shite, more like) even more.
In this one, as Mr Kinkade here writes in the introduction, is a simple town of old fashioned values and absolute, irrevocable status quo. Such is this glory of Old Values that fans will just wet their diapers as they contribute more money to his definitely not-simple mansion in Santa Cruz, and I will bet my last penny that the the mansion in Santa Cruz is filled to the brim with luxuries bought from the ridiculous amounts of money delusional his fans pay for his paintings.
Anyway, Cape Light. City girl comes to Cape Light (in a soon-to-be-ended relationship to unworthy town guy, blah blah blah) to take care of overbearing sick mother (mother may come off like the chairwoman of the Cape Light KKK Division, but she’s Old Glory, so hallelujah, hallelujah, et cetera), falls for Cape Light’s old fashioned simple but impossibly perfect man, discovers the daughter she gives up for adoption (cue lots of sad, weepy music from violins of repentance), and decides to stay forever in this place where people say gems like “I tried one of those gourmet coffee drinks on my way over. What do they call it? A Lottie? A loddy?” and “I suppose that’s true. Marriage is hard work sometimes. You know what I mean?”
Banal dialogues, nonexistent characterization, and lots of scary Bible-thumpers trying to pretend that they won’t take out their knives and stab you in the back for not being one of “them”, Cape Light is made even more repulsive when I take into account that Katherine Spencer is a former New York editor now working as Mr Kinkade’s drone in his Old Glory Hypocrock Business Empire. I doubt she knows her Cape Light from the Ozarks.
I guess I can safely say that I will never, ever want another excursion into the rose-tinted, dung-smelling hypocrock world of the Kinkade Nuremberg. Obviously I’m not decent enough to enjoy such things in life, and for once, I’m bloody grateful.