The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher Review

Rome, 1955

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.

Title:The Italian Teacher
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Elyse

    I read “The Imperfections”, by Tom Rachman, with my local book club ways back - and wasn’t crazy about it in the same way other members in our group were — I found it dry and dull ...I never w...

  • Angela M

    This novel is in many way about art, the art of an eccentric, self centered, overbearing, unfaithful man, a painter appropriately named Bear Bavinsky. It’s about the artist who is famous and yet shu...

  • Theresa Alan

    “The moneyed all speak of art, the artists all speak of money.” This is an unusual novel. Usually, the protagonist has a goal and has to overcome obstacles to achieve that goal. In this book, none...

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    ”How amazing my mother and father were! All those years, all their bullying doubts, all in the paltry hope that strangers might someday stand before their work and look, probably no longer than a fe...

  • Cheri

    ” Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call lonelinessBut it’s better than drinkin’ alone” Piano Man Songwriter: Billy JoelThere’s quite a bit of traveling about the world in this story fr...

  • Tammy

    Rachman is a marvel. You meet the main character, Pinch, as a child and follow him throughout his life. Pinch’s father, Bear, is a negligent father, drinker and womanizer in addition to being a much...

  • Marialyce

    4.5 gloriously written starsBeing a parent is a hard job, perhaps the hardest one out there. It requires one to be there always for another person, a guide, a mentor, a friend, a person whose love is ...

  • Bam

    Bear Bavinsky is an acclaimed American artist living in Rome in 1955 with his young Canadian wife Natalie and their little boy Charles, nicknamed Pinch. Bear is a huge man in both body and personality...

  • Faith

    I've read and loved two books by this author and I was disappointed to find that I didn't love this one. I didn't hate it, but it was just ok for me. Bear Bavinsky was a larger than life painter who, ...

  • Rebecca Foster

    Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is just an Italian teacher, though as a boy in Rome in the 1950s–60s he believed he would follow in the footsteps of his sculptor mother and his moderately famous father...