This prize-winning novel introduces us to Renato Stillamare, a man who paints landscapes as if they were nudes, and nudes as if they were landscapes.
One winter’s night seventy years earlier in Lexington, Massachusetts, he was found swaddled in a basket outside the front door of a large, resourceful, passionate, and somewhat rash Sicilian-American clan named Cavallù, which adopted him. He may be the best painter of his generation, but his canvasses are no longer in demand, nor have they been for the twenty-five years since last he had a show in a Newbury Street gallery. After retiring from teaching at Copley College of Art, Renato has retreated back to his Boston studio, if retreat is the word, where he is furiously painting, painting, painting, determined to be rediscovered. A force of nature, Renato is a big-hearted, lusty, opinionated, and occasionally intemperate man of large appetites and enlarged prostate whose three 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 ago, whose occasional wife (the love of his life) lives in a condo on the opposite bank of the Charles, and whose life is about to become that much more complicated when the gothbedecked daughter of a former student crashes at his loft with her little boy. The uproarious story of Renato’s 70th year, which he unabashedly recounts with amazement and bonhomie, is about extraordinary things simply happening to an ordinary man caught up in living life to the fullest. A funny, touching, even magical novel, Renato, the Painter is a splendid addition to such comic classics as The Ginger Man and The Horse’s Mouth.
Here’s a bit of what Publisher’s Weekly said about it upon publication:
“Here is 70-year-old Renato, living in his Boston studio, separated from his beloved but maddening wife by the Charles River. It seems as if everything is slowing—his body, demand for his paintings, his ability to keep up with his complicated family life—everything but his sex drive, that is. When the punky, pierced daughter of an old friend shows up, her eight-year-old son in tow, Renato resists both her attempts at friendship and his attraction to her, preferring to exult in his own misanthropy. Although at times reminiscent of one of Woody Allen’s aging male protagonists, Renato is less broadly curmudgeonly and more empathetically human. “God made us mortal, and all we have to assuage us is this perishable art and human love,” Renato reflects. In prose as lusty and vigorous as Renato himself, Mirabelli captures the feeling of coming to terms—ready or not—with old age.”
$25 cloth, 320 pages, 5.75 x 8.75”, 978-0-929701-96-7
Ask for it at your local book store, or get it direct from the publisher at http://www. mcphhersonco.com. The publisher will be grateful and the author will thank you from the bottom of his heart. Or go to an online bookstore. That works, too.