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The American Painter Emma Dial: A Novel Hardcover – May 11, 2009
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
From former Jeff Koons studio assistant Peale, an introspective examination of art, talent and motivation in the contemporary New York art scene. Emma Dial is 32 and the right hand to prominent New York artist Michael Freiburg: Michael dreams up the ideas and Emma—armed with her skill and his trust—does the painting. Through their stormy six-year relationship, Emma has reached a certain level of comfort, painting five or six major works a year at $20,000 apiece. Yet as art becomes work and her talent is appropriated to someone else's vision, Emma finds it increasingly difficult to visit her own studio, much less come up with ideas of her own. Michael and Emma, of course, also sleep together. When Michael's friend and rival Philip Cleary enters the picture, choices become increasingly confusing for Emma as Philip pushes her to break free of Michael and focus on her own work. There's a controlled neatness to the novel that feels at odds with the fury and passions of its artist characters, and the quiet late-book revelations aren't exactly inspired. All in all, it's fine, if a bit light. (May)
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“Emma is a fully developed character, a smart young woman who must choose between an easy pass into a world of excitement and glamour and the hard work and heavy risk of personal achievement.”
- Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe
“[A] splendid first novel....A wonderful achievement, The American Painter Emma Dial is a novel that should have broad appeal―a treat for both the artist of any medium and the general reader.”
- Ron Slate, On the Seawall
Top customer reviews
While reading, I had moments of visualizing the painter played by Alan Bates in Unmarried Woman and some hints of Camille Claudel -in a modern fresh style. If you liked either of those movies, read this book.
Emma is one of the quirky artsy outsiders we all have read or seen in movies ( Juno, for example) but she captivated my heart because of the way she looked at the world, the way she had such deep passions and insight, but was human and afraid. This is what made the story great, because it touched the reality of how so many people feel about their lives; and about the way life can get in the way of being who we are really meant to be.
Thank you Samantha Peale, this book opened my eyes as an artists eyes have to be.
The maneuverings behind the scenes are adroitly written, in service to keeping the art titans firmly in place. Everything is measured in relation to this mix of art and power, including friendships; and, while many fall to the wayside, Emma Dial is at the brink, having to decide whether to continue to lose herself to the fiscally rewarding safety of her employer/lover's shadow, or to break away, by whatever means necessary, to the enormous risk of being an artist in her own right.
With Emma Dial, we're given a different kind of heroine: unsentimental, with a steady unwavering perceptive voice; hiding behind the reputation of her employer, doing the work while he receives the glory; able, yet insecure about the follow through, the blustery, ego-driven selling, that she knows is necessary; and, for the most part, two or three paces ahead of everyone else.