Only three books that sound interesting this week. I’m mainly interested in The Italian Teacher for that spectacular cover and talking about covers, my god, the cover for Tomorrow 😥
The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome’s historic villas, a party is bright with near-genius, shaded by the socialite patrons of their art. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. Larger than life, muscular in both figure and opinion, he blazes at art criticism and burns half his paintings. He 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 under his father’s shadow – one of the twentieth century’s fiercest and most controversial painters – 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.
What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of twentieth-century art and its demons, vultures and chimeras. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of painful vulnerability and realism: talent made irrelevant by personality. Stripped of egotism, authenticity or genius, Pinch forces us to face the deep held fear of a life lived in vain.
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
“Ornate, vivid, deeply colored, and so precise I could smell and taste the worldâ€¦ The story of a dog crossing continents and centuries in search of the man he loves is moving and tender. I was captivated by its charm from the beginning.” —Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Tomorrow tells the story of a 217-year-old dog and his search for his lost master. His adventures take him through the London Frost Fair, the strange court of King Charles I, the wars of the Spanish succession, Versailles, the golden age of Amsterdam and to nineteenth-century Venice. As he journeys through Europe, he befriends both animals and humans, falls in love (only once), marvels at the human ability to make music, despairs at their capacity for war and gains insight into both the strength and frailties of the human spirit.
With the rich historical vision of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrelland the captivating canine perspective of A Dog’s Purpose, Tomorrow draws us into a unique century-spanning tale of the unbreakable connection between dog and human.
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