review over on Tor.com really says it all.
This is the story of a young painter, Greg, who rents a studio with 4 other artists. They've been at this for 3 years, and none of them are earning a living from their art yet, they've mostly run through all their savings and are trying to figure out what to do next - throw in the towel or try to scrape together enough money to put on a show. Interspersed is the Hungarian fairy tale which Greg is telling them in installments, about a Hungarian Taltos who needs to find the sun, the moon, and the stars and put them in the sky so that there will be light. It is an old fairy tale, full of things which make no sense and I struggled with it. The story of Greg and his painting, and the other artists in the studio...was wonderful.
My favorite bit was definitely reading about the process of painting the monster painting which Greg is working on. I feel as though I learned quite a lot about art in the process, and I now want to go hang out in an art gallery for a while and read up on art history. The thing which I think could have been a lot of fun, but I don't have the background to appreciate: all the chapter titles were names of famous paintings (I think), and they may have been related to things going on in the story. So it might be fun to read through it again while reading up on all the title paintings.
I'm still pretty frustrated by the fact that I can't make any connections between the fairy tale and the story. Jo Walton suggests that the figures in the painting (Uranus, Artemis & Apollo) represent the sun, the moon, and the stars...but I'm not quite seeing how that works. And even if it does work, I still don't see enough connections to make the fairy tale work for me. On the other hand, the rest of the story was rather fascinating.