Young artists often mistake proximity to the art world for the act of creation itself. Nowhere is this error more common than in New York City, where being able to paint and make rent is a question of finding “the right imbalance” between art and paying work. So says the disarmingly candid narrator of Samantha Peale’s first novel, The American Painter Emma Dial, who is not following her own advice. Emma, in the employ of a critically acclaimed painter, hasn’t visited her studio in a year. Her self-loathing is palpable; the prose vibrates with the heat of her disgust.
For more, see Deborah Solomon’s generally admiring review for The New York Times, Deborah Vankin’s for The Los Angeles Times, and Ron Slate’s at his own site. Artnet reviewer Walter Robinson is more critical. If you’re curious about the working methods and private life of Peale’s former employer, the controversial artist and former Wall Streeter Jeff Koons, go here and here.