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A Painter of Our Time Paperback – August 27, 1996
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The reality to living as an artist is rather more prosaic than what the writers tell us. The issues an artist faces to produce artwork are far less emotional than what the layman would believe.
Here, for the first -- and as far as I know -- the only time, is a novel which accurately reflects the lifestyle and technical considerations of the typical working artist: a highly skilled professional without a "name". This book says it all.
And it says it with great finesse. Beyond its veracity to the profession, Painter of Our Time is both a well written story and compelling character study of an aging man in a less than perfect marriage.
The one exotic aspect to the story's main character, is that he is a politically committed hungarian refugee living in post-war London. Written in the form of a journal, the artist is haunted by the memory of a dead friend, as he struggles with low income and an indifferent wife.
Some readers may have a problem with the book's heavy emphasis on old school communist doctrine (as I did), but if you can get past this, you will find this a thoroughly absorbing, thoroughly accurate work about what it means to be an artist.
Besides the observations on painting, A Painter of Our Time interests as a character study, in its examination of the relationship of each of us to his past, and the question of how well we know each other. A small, quiet gem, it rings true throughout - especially as a first novel. I wouldn't say I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want to.