The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher

Rome, 1955The 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 ...

Details The Italian Teacher

TitleThe Italian Teacher
Release DateFeb 20th, 2018
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Art, Cultural, Italy, Literary Fiction

Reviews The Italian Teacher

  • Elyse Walters
    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 wrote review after our group discussion. I just forgot about it. And - then - this week I was given this lovely Advance copy of “The Italian Teacher”. And WOW.... what a completely different experience from the same author.I thoroughly enjoyed thi...
  • 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 shuns the critics and the galleries, destroys his work if it is not how he wants it to be .There are certainly some thought provoking questions raised about art and the relationship the artist has with his work, about creativity. For whom is the art cre...
  • 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 few seconds. That’s all they were fighting for.What driven lives!”Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is the Roman spawn of a Canadian sculptor and a celebrated American artist. Bear Bavinsky achieved his reputation in the 1950s by painting body parts, ne...
  • Katie
    An underlying premise of this novel is that personality is just as important as talent in achieving fame. TV perhaps bears this theory out. Pinch, the novel's main protagonist has very little personality. He's completely overshadowed by his artist father, Bear Bavinsky. Bear conforms to just about every popular cliché of the artist - an egotistical womaniser who uses his fidelity to his art as a means of blundering through life like a self-indul...
  • 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 of main characters are admirable. Bear Bavinsky is a celebrated artist when the story begins in 1955, but he treats the endless stream of women in his life like crap and ignores the seventeen children he has with wives and girlfriends and mistresses...
  • 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 from Rome to London, Toronto, New York, France, and Pennsylvania. There’s also a bit of traveling through time, as this begins in 1955, with stops along the way, and ending in 2018. There’s another journey, as well: to the world of Art, artists, and...
  • 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 admired and successful artist. As Rachman puts it, “But your relatives judge you relatively.” After trying and failing poor Pinch just can’t measure up to his father’s greatness and lives a small life, but he is determined to leave a legacy....
  • 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 never questioned. For Charles, also known as Pinch, the lack of his father's attention plays havoc with this young boy's life. Pinch is a shy boy, loved by his mother, Natalie, but forever seeking the attention and approval of his artist father, Bear...
  • 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 who is totally focused on his work: "My real life, it's when I'm working. It's entirely there. The rest--everything--is flimflam. And that's tragedy."Bear is a perfectionist who burns any painting that displeases him. His vision for his art is that ...
  • 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, for a while, was quite popular. He was also an irresponsible narcissist who had countless wives and girlfriends and 17 children. Bear's appeal to these women (other than his fame) was never made clear to me. The protagonist of this book is his son Pi...
  • Trudie
    This was a fairly excruciating read for me and perhaps I would have been better to DNF this after 50 pages as was my instinct, however since I was reading this for book club I was determined to finish it, maybe there would be some payoff in the ending ?. ( Urmmm no, not really )One of my problems here was the writing style, the first 100 pages or more were inadvertently humorous, clunky word choices, overblown dialogue, characters either very dul...
  • Rachel
    "'Because there's no malice in Dad. He's just that way. Like a huge ship, powering forward on his mission, and nobody can stop it.''I see,' Natalie notes, 'that you're still very engaged with Bear.'He looks to the restaurant clock, irritated. Nobody likes to be understood without warning." My goodness, was The Italian Teacher ever my kind of book. I didn't love it from the very first page - admittedly with a book about characters called Bear and ...
  • Ron Charles
    “The Italian Teacher” confirms Rachman’s reputation as a shepherd of lost souls. It tells the story of Pinch, a man whose whole life is overshadowed by his father, the great 20th-century artist Bear Bavinsky. Bear is a fictional character, but Rachman takes scissors and paste to the museum catalogue just as Rachel Kushner did in her wonderful 2013 novel, “The Flamethrowers.” He paints Bear so cleverly into the canon of contemporary art ...
  • Rebecca
    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, Bear Bavinsky, who painted close-ups of body parts. When this dream was shattered, he turned to criticism, getting art history degrees and planning to preserve his father’s reputation by writing his authorized biography. But along the way somethi...
  • Liz
    I enjoyed the writing in The Italian Teacher, and appreciated Pinch as a detailed and authentically flawed character, but I couldn’t seem to engage with the story until about the last third of the book. Nearly his entire life Pinch has pursued approval from the one person who is too self-important to ever grant it -- his father, artist Bear Bavinsky. Though Pinch is ten times the person Bear is, he lives in obscurity, kept there in large part b...
  • Michael
    This is a warm-hearted tale of a son trying his whole life to make his relationship with his father work towards a healthy balance for his own identity. In addition to insights about the psychology of fathers and sons, the story told provides a great window on the interplay between authentic creativity in art and its corruption by the incestuous enterprises of marketing, journalism, and academic study.Charles (“Pinch”) grows up in Rome in the...
  • Meike
    Parts of this book are rather placative, some lack logical stringency, and it's generally too long - but I can't deny that I enjoyed reading it, and that it contains many smart thoughts on the dynamics of art and fame. Our protagonist Charles is the son of infamous painter Bear Bavinsky and his third wife, and in this novel, we are following him through his whole life (and even beyond that). "Pinch", as he is called by his family, adores his fath...
  • Chrissie
    I can see that many will enjoy this novel, but it did not fit me. I will explain why in the hope that you may determine if perhaps it will fit you. We follow the lives of Bear Bavinsky, an artist, and Charles Bavinsky, his son. Charles is born in 1950 and we follow him from his childhood in Rome through to his death in 2011. His father dies a decade earlier. Loose ends are tied up and the book concludes with a retrospective of Bear’s artwork at...
  • David
    While this certainly fits the classification and form of a novel, it feels an awful lot like a film screenplay in book form. With so many characters painted using broad brushstrokes, and a steady flow of scenes that are saturated in visual imagery, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Rachman wrote this with thoughts of a movie deal in the back of his mind. And more power to him because this could make a very good flick.I'm glad I stuck with it ...
  • Katie Long
    A good story and a nice, light read, but I’m afraid I didn’t find it to be much more than that. Everything about it seemed only skin deep. From the plot to the characterization there was so much more to develop and explore that it feels like a missed opportunity. #TOB2019
  • Marchpane
    A breezy, undemanding read, The Italian Teacher is not fluffy enough to qualify as pure escapist fun, but it's still kind of light and inconsequential. For me this would have been better if it had devoted more time to the side characters rather than the ineffectual and bland protagonist Pinch, whose life story this is.The book says a few clever things about the art world, but I didn’t feel like they were particularly original insights and overa...
  • Lee
    Life's too short. It just is. If you like stuff like the following excerpt you'll like and possibly love this book, which isn't bad so much as glib, sketchy, lightly composed, casually researched, scanty notes-for-a-novel, TV-ready, more than a little self-satisfied. "Without airs, he recounted his dealings in the New York art milieu: quirky collectors, avaricious dealers, boldface-name artists she’d read about but whom he knew personally. In e...
  • Collin
    Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky has found it impossible to find his way out of his father’s shadow. Lost in its darkness his entire life. The Italian Teacher is basically his life story. His father, Bear Bavinsky, is a famous painter of still life who shuns celebrity and yet paradoxically is an extrovert, gregarious and charming once starting up a conversation. A perfectionist who burns the paintings that do not reach his impossibly high standards...
  • Nancy
    The Italian Teacher is destined to be one of my favorite reads of the year.Tom Rachman's character Pinch is the son of a philandering, larger-than-life artist, Bear Bavinsky. Bear is charming and unreliable.Pinch spends his entire life trying to get his dad's attention and approval. He imitates his dad, smoking a pipe early. In a one day lesson Bear teachers Pinch the fundamentals of painting and Pinch dreams of following in his father's footstep...
  • Claire
    I feel duty bound to start this review with the caveat that from the start it was clear that this was not a book for me. I won't dwell too long on my lengthy list of misgivings with this novel, suffice to say I found the characters both insufferable and flat (with the exception of a couple of neglected but complex minor players), and ultimately I couldn't bring myself to care about anything that was happening. Rachman saved himself from one star ...
  • Lark Benobi
    I would have loved listening to this as an audiobook on an airplane as it gave me very vivid scenic impressions that would have lifted me right out of my economy seat and transported me to a better place. But as it is I am in a very good place already, so the book bored me a little.
  • Anita Pomerantz
    The plotting and pacing on this one didn't completely hang together for me, but I'm one of a small number of readers who really likes having a cast of imperfect characters, and there were plenty of flaws in this cast. Our protagonist is Charles, son of Bear and Natalie. Bear is an American artist of some renown who paints parts of bodies. He is the kind of famous person you read about in the National Enquirer: charismatic, narcissistic, and const...
  • Marjorie
    Pinch’s parents are both artists. His mother, Natalie, is an eccentric maker of pottery and his father is the renowned painter, Bear Bavinsky. Bear is completely self-absorbed and only cares about his art. His son strives for his attention and praise. When Pinch makes his own effort at being an artist, his father tells him that he, Pinch, will never be an artist and Pinch believes him. Bears abandons Pinch and his mother in Italy and is off to ...