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.
Years ago, a well-known expressionist painter named Jim Stegner shot a man in a bar. The man lived, Jim served his time, and he has learned to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. Jim enjoys a quiet life in the valleys of Colorado. He works with a lovely model, he doesn't drink, he goes fly fishing in the evenings. His paintings fetch excellent prices at a posh gallery in Santa Fe. He is—if he can admit it—almost happy. One day, driving down a dirt road, Jim sees a man beating a small horse. Jim leaps out of the truck, tackles the man, and bloodies his nose. The man is Dell, a cruel hunting outfitter notorious among locals. Jim cannot shake his rage over the little horse. The next night, under a full moon, telling himself he is just going night fishing, he returns to the creek where Dell has his camp and kills him. As Jim tries to come to terms with what he has done, he must evade the police, navigate his own conscience, and escape the members of Dell’s clan set on revenge. And he paints the whole time; trying to make sense of his actions. Traveling from the rough adobe cottages and rivers of Colorado to the bright streets and galleries of Santa Fe, aching with grief and transcendent with beauty, The Painter is a story about art and love and violence, and using the remnants of hardship to create a rich life.
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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.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: Following up on the success of The Dog Stars, his post-apocalyptic literary debut of 2012, Peter Heller now pivots in a slightly different direction. The Painter is a contemporary Western about a 45-year-old artist and fly fisherman named Jim Stegner. Having lost two wives to divorce and his only daughter to violence, Stegner has felt the sting of life; but he’s also capable of experiencing great beauty, whether through his art, his relationships, or while out casting on a river. Heller skillfully balances these two sides of his protagonist, painting a portrait of a man whose dark edge can explode in unexpected ways (the first line of The Painter is "I never imagined I would shoot a man)." As the action moves forward, Heller proves adept at describing both peace and violence, and his second novel establishes him firmly in the tradition of writers like Kent Haruf, Thomas McGuane, and Cormac McCarthy. --Chris Schluep
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Book Description Knopf, 2014. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Praise for The Painter : "The 45-year-old painter Jim Stegner, the title character of Peter Heller''s second novel, is a Renaissance man of the American West. He reads T. S. Eliot and listens to Tom Waits. . . He also has a bad habit, when his temper flares, of shooting at people and braining them with rocks. . . Jim''s life changes decisively when he comes upon a blustery stranger abusing a small horse. Suspenseful scenes with the local authorities and vigilantes of various stripes propel the novel. Mr. Heller''s . . . close attention to the natural world serves his fiction well. The Colorado and New Mexico landscapes evoked in The Painter give the novel a deeper than usual sense of place." -- John Williamson, The New York Times "Heller''s first fictional outing was The Dog Stars , a breakout post apocalyptic tale. His new book opens in rural Colorado where painter Jim Stegner -- failed husband, grieving father and barroom murderer -- is trying to glue his life back together when trouble strikes again." -- Toronto Star "Heller''s prose style . . . works brilliantly at allowing readers inside Stegner''s head to capture his often jagged thoughts. And Heller also does a wonderful job of evoking the process by which Stegner creates his paintings--a kind of furious inspiration that even he can''t always understand--and the different kind of release he finds in his beloved pastime of fly-fishing. . . The Painter is a strikingly complex character study, one that parcels out information about the details of Stegner''s back story while never building to an obvious cathartic revelation. Jim Stegner may be a mess of a man, but it''s fascinating watching Heller plumb his broken soul." Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly "The settings he moves through during his time in Santa Fe are as recognizable as if they were pulled from a postcard . . . Heller''s novel also paints a recognizable picture of the local art scene and the art world in general . . . Heller''s men are manly -- they''re fisherman, they''re comfortable with firearms, they lust after women -- but they aren''t the clichd macho types you might expect . . . That''s what''s unfamiliar in Heller''s fiction, the unusual situations, the sense of being shadowed and stalked, and the gunplay that''s common to both novels. In this sense, the stories are of a classic type: unusual men, the kind we can identify with even if we''re not painters or pilots, thrust into unusual, even tragic situations. Yet at heart, these men are not so different than those we know." -- Santa Fe New Mexican "The complexity of Peter Heller''s characters, specifically Stegner, and his ability to integrate art with violence, poetry with addiction, and nature with deep introspection, makes The Painter an absolutely vibrant read. . . He is a Hemingway-esque character - outdoorsy, tough, alcoholic - but with a softer side . . . Heller''s poetic language slows the narrative and gives it a quiet, peaceful feel, in between bursts of intense plot development that keep the story moving . . . Humanity, redemption, and forgiveness lie at the heart of the story . . . a thoughtful and deeply satisfying read. I recommend The Painter to people who appreciate the outdoors, to people who could spend twenty minutes contemplating one painting in an art museum, and to people who prefer gray spaces to black and white." --Elena Spagnolie, BookBrowse "Meet Jim Stegner: mid-40s, a fly-fisherman, painter and killer. He is the masculine protagonist in Peter Heller''s new novel, 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 . . . Rock solid prose . . . Whether you read this novel for the plot or appreciate it for poetic insights into the human condition, either way, you''ll be glad you did." -- Wichita Public Radi. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0385352093
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