- Subscriptions & Clubs
- Bulk Sales
- My Account
Meet Jim Stegner, mid forties, a fly-fisherman, painter, and killer. He is the masculine protagonist in Peter Heller’s new novel entitled The Painter.
The opening line is masterful and captures our attention: 45 year old Jim reflects “I never imagined I would kill a man.” From then on, Heller holds us until the very last sentence.
On his way to fish one afternoon, Heller kills a man for beating a horse. Living low with an air-tight alibi from his lover and model, Sophie he bursts forth with a new body of work for his Santa Fe gallerist to sell. Stegner’s psychological tension as he is questioned and stalked by revenge seekers and detectives is the undercurrent that flows through Heller’s beautiful prose.
Tormented by his guilt over not preventing his daughter’s death, Heller cannot out-fish or out-paint the memories of their last exchange. Heller’s tumultuous state- of- mind can range from quiet contentment as he casts along a secluded mountain stream to violent deadly outbursts at perceived injustice.
Heller, like Stegner, is a man’s man, as reflected in his rock solid prose. Read this novel for the plot and appreciate it for poetic insights into the human condition; either way, you’ll be glad you did.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW.— Sarah Bagby
Peter Heller, the celebrated author of the breakout best seller The Dog Stars, returns with an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful second novel about an artist trying to outrun his past.
Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.
A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life.
Praise for The Painter:
"Jim Stegner, celebrated painter, ardent fisherman and homespun philosopher, narrates this masterful novel, in which love (parental and romantic), artistic vision, guilt, grief, and spine-chilling danger propel a suspenseful plot. . . Heller is equally skillful at describing the creation of a painting as he is at describing the thrilling details of a gunfight. Here, he explores the mysteries of the human heart and creates an indelible portrait of a man searching for peace, while seeking to maintain his humanity in the face of violence and injustice." —Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Heller’s writing is sure-footed and rip-roaring, star-bright and laced with ‘dark yearning,’ coalescing in an ever-escalating, ravishing, grandly engrossing and satisfying tale of righteousness and revenge, artistic fervor and moral ambiguity." —Booklist (starred)
Praise for The Dog Stars:
“Extraordinary. . . . One of those books that makes you happy for literature.” —Junot Díaz, The Wall Street Journal
“This end-of-the-world novel [is] more like a rapturous beginning. . . . Remarkable.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“For all those who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road the last word on the post-apocalyptic world—think again. . . . Make time and space for this savage, tender, brilliant book.” —Glen Duncan, author of The Last Werewolf
“Heart-wrenching and richly written. . . . The Dog Stars is a love story, but not just in the typical sense. It’s an ode to friendship between two men, a story of the strong bond between a human and a dog, and a reminder of what is worth living for.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A dreamy, postapocalyptic love letter to things of beauty, big and small.” –Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
"Heartbreaking" —The Seattle Times
“A brilliant success.” —The New Yorker