Renato Staillamare may be the best painter of his generation — at least he doesn’t know anyone better — but his canvasses aren’t in demand, and haven’t been since his last show at a Newbury Street gallery twenty-five years ago. Now 70, and retired from teaching at Copley College of Art, Renato’s retreated to his Boston studio where he is defiantly painting, painting, painting, determined to be rediscovered. Renato is a lusty, large-hearted, smart, opinionated, and occasionally intemperate man whose children (including a daughter by his accidental mistress) are all grown up and dispersed, whose best friend (whom he misses more than anyone) died years before, and whose maddening wife (the love of his life) lives in a condo on the opposite bank of the Charles. But his life is about to become much more complicated when the goth-bedecked daughter of a former student shows up at his studio with her little boy in tow. Renato’s story, which he unabashedly recounts with flare and verve, is about extraordinary things happening to an ordinary man living life to the fullest. A funny, touching, even magical novel, Renato, the Painter deservedly takes its place alongside such classics as The Ginger Man and The Horse’s Mouth.
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