Renato, the Painter--An Account of his Youth & his 70th Year in His Own Words Reviewed By Gordon Osmond of
Gordon Osmond

Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.

He has reviewed books and stageplays for and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE

Gordon can also be heard on the Electic Authors Showcase.

By Gordon Osmond
Published on November 14, 2012

Author:Eugene Mirabelli

Publisher:McPherson & Company

ISBN: 0-929701-96-8

Author:Eugene Mirabelli

Publisher:McPherson & Company

ISBN:  0-929701-96-8

Within the pages of this wandering and wondrous account of the life and loves of Renato Stillamare, the reader is richly rewarded with moving insights into the psyche of the artist—the insecurities (principally concern about the continuance of talent), the dependence on commercialism, the sustaining support of ego, and the pursuit of the consoling comforts of passion, whether for sex, food, or nature.

Renato’s writing is much like his painting—grounded in discipline but utterly free in ultimate expression. Renato’s sentences and paragraphs often spill out without any concern for brevity or organization; he bobs and weaves among tenses, and he even dabbles in moving from basic first to second and third-person perspectives. He consistently misuses noun clauses when framing questions, e.g., “Alba asked how was my salad,” seems unaware that “chill” has an adjectival form, and once even falls into the ”your”/“you’re” hazard. And yet, withal, the novel, and the author’s allergy to prosaic expression, is enchanting and oddly right.

One consequence of never saying “no,” is that one tends to accumulate a heavily populated family, and Renato’s calling circle is no exception. His foolproof means of acquiring spousal sanction for siring an “illegitimate” child is having his wife share the extramarital bed.

The principal respect in which Renato’s La Vie Boheme is not necessarily En Rose is his health which, surprise, surprise, is not perfect at age 70. But even this does not appreciably diminish Renato’s adoption of the credo of another great painter: Lust for Life. Renato’s take on his late years is succinctly stated: “And I don’t have forever like I used to.”

For this reader, the most riveting parts of Renato’s story is his dealing with two art dealers who are tolerable to him simply because they own galleries and reputations that have the capacity to bring his paintings to the attention of the damnable purchasing public. Any artist who has ever received a rejection letter or suffered the indignity of compromise in the service of exposure will feel Renato’s frustration and pain to the max.

A fair amount of time is spent on the relationship between Renato and a young, metal-impaled free spirit who crashes Renato’s pad with her kid. The contrast between the hippie quite young and the hippie quite old is fascinating.

The novel acts as a significant caution to those who might be tempted to conclude that a bohemian life style is necessarily doomed to meaninglessness. Renato’s life and works remind us that the twin powers of love and art can toss this theory into the proverbial cocked hat.

The reader can be forgiven a fair degree of curiosity about what Renato’s paintings actually look like. The author is wise in leaving this to the reader’s imagination, each of which will be informed by the reader’s own background and perspective. My own projection is that Renato’s work would be as far from Norman Rockwell as one can get; however, after reading the novel’s final passages, featuring a bucolic picnic attended by loving family and friends and illuminated with the glow of commercial success and the promise of enhanced artistic expression, I’m not so sure.

If you want a generous glimpse of the portrait of the artist as an old man, this worthy but often messy novel will be deeply satisfying.

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