The Italian teacher

Tom Rachman

Book - 2018

"A masterful novel that moves from Roman apartments to SoHo galleries to the South of France and tells the story of the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of THE IMPERFECTIONISTS. Rome, 1955. The artists gather for a picture at a party in an ancient villa. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast canvases, larger than life, is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot. From the side of the room watches little Pinch - their ...son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, striving to live up to the Bavinsky name; while Natalie, a ceramicist, cannot hope to be more than a forgotten muse. Trying to burn brightly in his father's shadow, Pinch's attempts flicker and die. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy. A masterful, original examination of love, duty, art and fame, The Italian Teacher cements Tom Rachman as among this generation's most exciting literary voices"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2018]
Language
English
Physical Description
341 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780735222694
073522269X
Main Author
Tom Rachman (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* As the son of renowned artist Bear Bavinsky, Charles, aka Pinch, has always struggled to find his own identity. His father is a legend, a hard-living, opinionated, philandering raconteur whose impact on the world of fine art is in direct relation to his obsessive and strategic secrecy. Bear burns any painting he deems unworthy, thus elevating in value and allure the few works that make it to the public eye. As the father of countless children by numerous women, Bear is as cavalier in the role of parent as he is overprotective of his paintings. Thus, it is highly significant that Pinch alone remains in the old man's orbit, even as he tries to emulate his father's talent. Unceremoniously rebuffed on the one occasion he shows Bear one of his paintings, Pinch retreats to a lackluster career as a language teacher while surreptitiously creating his own body of work. When Bear dies and leaves his estate in an uproar, Pinch embarks on a scheme that will either destroy or protect his father's complicated legacy. Rachman's (The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, 2014) haunting addition to the list of novels about children overshadowed by famous parents is a momentous drama of a volatile relationship and the fundamental will to survive. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In Rachman's artful third page-turner (after The Rise & Fall of Great Powers), the son of a world-renowned painter struggles to escape the dark shadow cast by his father. Born in Rome to a mistress turned bride, Pinch Bavinsky only sees his domineering father, Bear, during the elder's summer visits to Europe. After a trip by teenage Pinch to 1960s New York ends with Bear crushing his artistic ambitions, the son abandons his dreams of painting to embark on a failed career in academia before becoming a foreign language instructor in London. The most trusted of Bear's 17 children, Pinch appoints himself overseer of his aging father's work, and much of the novel's well-staged tension emerges from Pinch's choice in the early aughts to paint a reproduction of one of Bear's paintings and sell it, passing it off as one of his father's. Spanning the 1950s to the present, the novel does traffic a bit in familiar notions of the art world and difficult artists, but its subversion of these tropes makes for a satisfying examination of authorship and authenticity, and a fine fictionalization of how crafting an identity independent of one's parents can be a lifelong, worthwhile project. (Mar.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In Rachman's artful third page-turner (after The Rise & Fall of Great Powers), the son of a world-renowned painter struggles to escape the dark shadow cast by his father. Born in Rome to a mistress turned bride, Pinch Bavinsky only sees his domineering father, Bear, during the elder's summer visits to Europe. After a trip by teenage Pinch to 1960s New York ends with Bear crushing his artistic ambitions, the son abandons his dreams of painting to embark on a failed career in academia before becoming a foreign language instructor in London. The most trusted of Bear's 17 children, Pinch appoints himself overseer of his aging father's work, and much of the novel's well-staged tension emerges from Pinch's choice in the early aughts to paint a reproduction of one of Bear's paintings and sell it, passing it off as one of his father's. Spanning the 1950s to the present, the novel does traffic a bit in familiar notions of the art world and difficult artists, but its subversion of these tropes makes for a satisfying examination of authorship and authenticity, and a fine fictionalization of how crafting an identity independent of one's parents can be a lifelong, worthwhile project. (Mar.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Rachman's artful third page-turner (after The Rise & Fall of Great Powers), the son of a world-renowned painter struggles to escape the dark shadow cast by his father. Born in Rome to a mistress turned bride, Pinch Bavinsky only sees his domineering father, Bear, during the elder's summer visits to Europe. After a trip by teenage Pinch to 1960s New York ends with Bear crushing his artistic ambitions, the son abandons his dreams of painting to embark on a failed career in academia before becoming a foreign language instructor in London. The most trusted of Bear's 17 children, Pinch appoints himself overseer of his aging father's work, and much of the novel's well-staged tension emerges from Pinch's choice in the early aughts to paint a reproduction of one of Bear's paintings and sell it, passing it off as one of his father's. Spanning the 1950s to the present, the novel does traffic a bit in familiar notions of the art world and difficult artists, but its subversion of these tropes makes for a satisfying examination of authorship and authenticity, and a fine fictionalization of how crafting an identity independent of one's parents can be a lifelong, worthwhile project. (Mar.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An Italian youth raised to revere the genius artist father who abandoned their family strives to become worthy of his father's attentions through a series of failed career pursuits before he hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An Italian youth raised to revere the genius artist father who abandoned their family strives to become worthy of his father's attentions through a series of failed career pursuits before he hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy. By the best-selling author of The Imperfectionists.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A masterful novel that moves from Roman apartments to SoHo galleries to the South of France and tells the story of the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of THE IMPERFECTIONISTS. Rome, 1955. The artists gather for a picture at a party in an ancient villa. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast canvases, larger than life, is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot. From the side of the room watches little Pinch - their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, striving to live up to the Bavinsky name; while Natalie, a ceramicist, cannot hope to be more than a forgotten muse. Trying to burn brightly in his father's shadow, Pinch's attempts flicker and die. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy. A masterful, original examinationof love, duty, art and fame, The Italian Teacher cements Tom Rachman as among this generation's most exciting literary voices"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“An exotic touch of intrigue arises in THE ITALIAN TEACHER . . . deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post A masterful novel about the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of The Imperfectionists.Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, Pinch learns quickly that Bear's genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father's attention--first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father's biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy--and make his own mark on the world. With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness, cementing his place among his generation's most exciting literary voices.