THE ARTIST by Norman Garbo


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Widower painter Duvid Karlinsky, 56, is famous and at a turning piont in 1945. On the beach at Amagansett he spies 23-year-old blonde Laurie. In no time, while the present is unbuttoning in Amagansett on a studio couch, the past unfolds in flashbacks in another inflated, loud-and-clear message book from the author of The Movement (1969). Cossack pogroms in Russia, the sickening journey to America, tenements, and Hester Street--Karlinsky is a Jewish artist. He achieves hard-won distinction by painting unpopular Jewish slum subjects, and his ""need for truth"" also drives him to be a combat artist in both world wars. Karlinsky is not a passive Jew, mind you, he is a six-foot ""Macabee warrior"" whose toughness with the canvas is equalled only by his success in the sack--actress Rachel, whore-wife Annie, and now lustrous Laurie, who becomes pregnant and shares with Duvid the pat nightmare climax: their victimization by two Cossack-like, Jew-hating US soldiers. Super-Jew Karlinsky is a disaster area of characterization, no more convincing when he paints (""Let it flow. No thinner. Leave it heavy. Now you're working"") than when he defends--constantly--his spiritual and physical purity. Garbo's good intentions will be enough for some, but if the perennial theme of anti-Semitism's undying force is to take on new life, it will require realer heroes than Duvid Karlinsky and better, sparer prose than this overreaching fly-trap of sincere sentences.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1978
Publisher: Norton