The Writer

Though Renato, the Painter received a first prize for literary fiction, Gene Mirabelli also writes curious short stories of magical realism, fantasy, and science fiction. He was also nominated for a Nebula Award. A shameful pleasure, but there it is.

Eugene Mirabelli is the author of eight highly acclaimed novels— The Burning Air, The Way In, No Resting Place, The World at Noon, The Language Nobody Speaks, The Passion of Terri Heart, and The Goddess in Love with a Horse — three of which feature members of Renato’s extended family and his friends.

To purchase Renato, the Painter directly from the publisher, click here.
We'll provide you with a link to Amazon, but we do hope you won't get distracted there and wind up buying automobile tires or lipstick. Remember, it's Renato, the Painter you want. OK. Here goes. To purchase it from Amazon, click here. In either case, we think you'll enjoy the novel and we know the author will thank you from the bottom of his heart.p

Gene Mirabelli lives in upstate New York and writes Critical Pages, a web site where he and a few others post pieces on society, popular culture, the arts and sciences, economics and political affairs. He's a Professor Emeritus at SUNY-Albany and was one of the founders and directors of Alternative Literary Programs in the Schools. His short stories have been translated into French, Russian, Chinese, Czech, Sicilian,Turkish, and Hebrew.

You can find an interview with Eugene Mirabelli discussing Renato, the Painter at National Public Radio's WAMC station.

About Renato, the Painter, Shelf Awareness says, "This sequel to earlier Mirabelli novels like The Passion of Teri Heart and The Goddess in Love with a Horse is a powerful, life-affirming story, a lusty, bawdy, hilarious romp through life as recounted by Renato in his old age."

The reviewer at Compulsion Reads says, "the book is exceptional, and I would strongly recommend it".

Photo of the writer by Lynn Finley.

Here’s a bit of news…

We’re very pleased to announce that Gene Mirabelli’s forthcoming novel, Renato After Alba, is scheduled for publication in November, 2016. 

“For anyone who loves the work of James Salter or William Trevor, Eugene Mirabelli is another writer to treasure, and Renato After Alba is one of the best books I’ve read in ages — a beautiful, profound and exhilarating novel about what sustains us in the face of inevitable loss.” — Elizabeth Hand, author of Hard Light and Generation Loss

Ten years after the conclusion of Renato Stillamare’s defiant confessions in Renato, the Painter, Alba, his beloved wife of fifty years, dies without warning, and the blow leaves him in pieces. When he resumes his narrative, this larger-than-life artist has been reduced to a gray existence of messy confusion — broken belief, crazy hope, desperate philosophy. A man of fragments but still an artist, he assembles a collage of scenes of life with and without Alba, recollections of his eccentric Sicilian-American family, encounters with well-meaning friends, daily attempts at resuming his former life, and metaphysical railings against any deity capable of destroying what it has created. In Renato After Alba, the deepest sorrow is not merely lacerating, outrageous, heart-rending, and tragic, but also, for someone so completely human as the enduring Renato, touchingly comic. And miraculously beautiful in its astonishment.

“Deeply moving, Renato After Alba is a grief novel that is never depressing. Readers will discover not only solace for being human but also joy for being alive. Alba remains an extraordinary absent presence, fully realized. Another character, a young woman who has lost her husband to brain cancer, has tattooed on her arm the words, ‘If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever’ — words that could be the epigraph to this memorable novel.” — Jeffrey Berman, author of Writing Widowhood: The Landscapes of Bereavement.

Renato After Alba was featured in the New England Review. (And yes, you can read the excerpt by clicking on those highlighted words.) The new novel, Renato After Alba, is a postscript to Renato, the Painter.

Top Literary Fiction Award

Renato, the Painter was awarded IPPYGold medalthe top prize in the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book awards. That year the number one spot in the literary fiction category was a tie, and Eugene Mirabelli’s novel shared top honors. The Awards program was created to highlight the year’s most distinguished books from independent publishers. Award winners are chosen by librarians and booksellers who are on the front lines, working everyday with patrons and customers. Some 125 books competed for the literary fiction Gold Medal. These books are examples of independent publishing at its finest.

In a twenty year round up for a summer reading list, Renato, the Painter, was chosen as the best of the best from 2013. To celebrate Independent Publisher Book Awards’ 20th Anniversary and “20 years of incredible books from incredible publishers,” the Independent Publisher organization chose twenty award-winning books — one from each year. Renato, the Painter, was picked for the year 2013.  “From the beginning it’s been about recognizing authors and publishers who are willing to stand for something and dare to be different. Viva la Independents!” said James Barnes, the Awards Director.

The Story…

Renato Stillamare paints landscapes as if they were nudes, and nudes as if they were landscapes. One winter’s night seventy years earlier in Lexington, Massachusetts, he was found swaddled in a basket outside the front door of a large, resourceful, passionate, and somewhat rash Sicilian-American clan named Cavallù, which adopted him. He may be the best painter of his generation, but his canvasses are no longer in demand, nor have they been for the twenty-five years since last he had a show in a Newbury Street gallery. After retiring from teaching at Copley College of Art, Renato has retreated back to his Boston studio, if retreat is the word, where he is furiously painting, painting, painting, determined to be rediscovered. A force of nature, Renato is a big-hearted, lusty, opinionated, and occasionally intemperate man of large appetites and enlarged prostate whose three children (including a daughter by his accidental mistress) are all grown up and dispersed, whose best friend (whom he misses more than anyone) died years ago, whose occasional wife (the love of his life) lives in a condo on the opposite bank of the Charles, and whose life is about to become that much more complicated when the Renato, the Painter jacket imagegothbedecked daughter of a former student crashes at his loft with her little boy. The uproarious story of Renato’s 70th year, which he unabashedly recounts with amazement and bonhomie, is about extraordinary things simply happening to an ordinary man caught up in living life to the fullest. A funny, touching, even magical novel, Renato, the Painter is a splendid addition to such comic classics as The Ginger Man and The Horse’s Mouth.

$25 cloth, 320 pages, 5.75 x 8.75”, 978-0-929701-96-7

You can read a chapter from the novel if you click here, or by clicking on the title in the menu at the top of this page where it says Renato, the Painter—Opening the book…

A Review…

The following review is from the premiere source that critics and book sellers alike rely on, Shelf Awareness . . .

As is the case with many first-person novels, the hero of Eugene Mirabelli’s Renato, the Painter is a foundling. When a baby appears on the doorstep of Bianca and Fidele Stilamare, they name the child Renato—Italian for “reborn”—and he grows up to become an artist whose fine work has failed to receive the accolades it deserves. (The same might also be said of Mirabelli himself.)
This sequel to earlier Mirabelli novels like The Passion of Teri Heart and The Goddess in Love with a Horse is a powerful, life-affirming story, a lusty, bawdy, hilarious romp through life as recounted by Renato in his old age. As a young boy, Renato enjoyed reading one of the few books in the Italian immigrant family’s home: Benvenuto Cellini’s Autobiography. As he grows up, his love of girls, then women, then drawing and painting, grows stronger and stronger until he feels he must devote his life to them (all of them). He marries, but that doesn’t go well; although he loves his wife deeply, they remain apart–closely apart, that is, on opposite sides of Boston’s Charles River, which only makes their relationship more hilarious and frustrating.
Later, a young woman, Avalon, the daughter of a close and dear friend, comes along with her son Kim. Renato just wants to help her out, but their relationship gradually evolves into something tender and beautiful: “Her hand glided from my shoulder to my flank with a caution so gentle it startled, she had a vigorous embrace and such tenderly inquisitive fingers as to doom a young man to her touch, and I was grateful to be old.” Mirabelli’s lovely, poetic prose, which fills his characterization of Renato to its brim, is a joy.
“Looking back, I’m baffled that I haven’t done better,” Renato reflects. “I don’t mean painting; I’ve done all right painting even if nobody knows it. But I could have given more time to my friends, could have listened more and complained less, could have been more generous to everyone.” Renato has done well, has lived and loved, and has served his mentor Cellini very well indeed.
—Tom Lavoie
Shelf Talker: Once you’ve read this lovely novel, you’ll be hunting down the rest of Mirabelli’s stories, which form an extended history of the fictional Cavallu clan

More information about Eugene Mirabelli and his books is available on his home page at the Authors Guild website. Click here.

Praise for Eugene Mirabelli’s Earlier Fiction

The Language Nobody Speaks is “a small masterpiece of the kind that if this were France, everybody would be buying.”—Andrei Codrescu, National Public Radio

The Goddess in Love with a Horse is a magical novel. It tells a story of Sicilians who migrate from Italy to America but never lose their intimacy with ancient gods. Mirabelli’s characters are paragons of beauty and superhuman desire that might have stepped out of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.”—Robert Viscusi

"There are echoes of fable in The Goddess in Love with a Horse; reverberations of every romantic classic that ever gripped your heart. A slender volume that still manages to inspire epic thoughts. Sensuous. Delicious. A delight." -January Magazine online

"The Goddess in Love with a Horse marries the long reach of history to the present moment, the real to the surreal, the romantic to the workaday world—and does so with great grace throughout. Eugene Mirabelli crosses the Atlantic by sea and air and on a magic carpet woven out of language; his wit and passionate brio can transport us all.”—Nicholas Delbanco

“Eugene Mirabelli has plucked the unforgettable Terri Heart [The Passion of Terri Heart] from one of the most painful intersections of recent history, a time when a pure, brilliant love met the evil of a corrupting culture. Terri is a lovable tart and saint, rendered unforgettable by Mirabelli’s wonderful writing. This touching, deft, and suspenseful novel should take its place on that lovely shelf alongside Lolita.”—Andrei Codrescu, National Public Radio

“For those who long to discover new writers of quality, Mirabelli is well worth the effort.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

The Burning Air “tells more of love than 1,000 weightier novels.”—London Sunday Dispatch

The Burning Air is “a notable success.”—Saturday Review

“The discovery of world and self [in TheWay In]...Eugene Mirabelli translates into terms so fresh and primary that they seem uniquely his own...a virtuoso performance.”—The New York Times

"No Resting Place is the best book about a contemporary marriage I have ever read.”—Anne Bernays, National Public Radio - WBUR, Boston

The World at Noon is history, myth, and folklore. But above all else, it is art.” —Kenneth Scambray