As anyone who saw Anthony Hopkins in Surviving Picasso knows to their cost, an artist’s life can make for an indifferent film. Fortunately, the page is more forgiving. Chris Paling’s new novel, Nimrod’s Shadow, takes the familiar motif of the genius in the garret and teases from it something more thoughtful than the customary, big-screen awe in the face of artistic creation.
Paling’s penurious (and wholly fictional) painter is T F Reilly, an Edwardian Londoner who shares his studio with his beloved Jack Russell, Nimrod. On the eve of his first exhibition he receives a visit from an admiring critic, Gower, suggesting that his fortunes are about to change. And