The Painter

The Painter

Book - 2014
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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. 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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2014
Edition: First edition
Description: 363 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780385352093
Branch Call Number: Hell


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Aug 04, 2020

It's good! Thanks.

Feb 22, 2020

There's little question that Heller is a great writer. That said, this novel seems to fall into the category of wonderful writing but relatively poor storytelling - something that seems to infect many fine writers. It's easy to fall in love with Heller's language - his descriptions of the Colorado mountains, the mechanics of fishing, of painting, are simply wonderful. But the arc of this story is not there. The main character, Jim Stegner, seems the same at the end of the story as he does at the beginning, having come through the disasters of a lost child and multiple murders, he seems the same man. So we have to wonder, what insights did we get? How can a man be so passionate about his creativity, his love of fishing, his love of his child, and still wander into these murderous rages that, while understandable, give us no insight into the root of his character. Hated the ending, such as it was. An ending imposed upon him not arrived at through his own internal revelations or reflections.

CCPL_Carly Feb 03, 2020

Author Peter Heller captures the arresting beauty of nature with his descriptions of Colorado and the southwest United States in this suspenseful literary masterpiece. His characters are patently human, both good and evil existing side by side as each wrestles with their past and future path. This is a suspenseful read that is enhanced by a strong sense of place.

Jul 22, 2019

Let it be said, unequivocally, that there's a hell of a lot of tobacco chewing/spitting front and center in The Painter. Seems to be a lynchpin for character interaction. On the other hand, there are some phosphorescent flashes of the self-evident: "She contracted something … confined her to a wheelchair and turned her into a Christian fundamentalist, which he said is like watching someone turn into an idiot before your eyes." There is a demarcation (admittedly very ill-defined) between attempting discovery of one's identity, inner being and self-obsession, the latter perhaps originating from a fixation upon society's valuation of what one is worth. A slippery slope. As we read, Jim Stegner engages in a continual quest (voluntary/involuntary?) to define himself. Not without significant peril. Hence, "Who the fuck was I?" For this reader, Heller's novels fall into two groupings. The first, those framed by an undercurrent of retreat to effect one's resuscitation or at least enter a holding pattern of survival: Dog Stars, The Painter, The River. The second, perpetually indefatigable pursuit of answers and insight into the human condition: Celine. The first three are rather prosaic, the latter a gem of driven individualism.

ArapahoeStaff26 Jun 08, 2019

Beautifully evocative of the Colorado mountains and plains, the pleasures of fly fishing, and the joy of painting. The main character is complex and fascinating, an artist, father, friend, lover, and violent defender of the defenseless. The possibility of redemption at the end adds sweetness and a sense of completion.

May 07, 2019

I loved Heller's The Dog Stars, so this was painfully disappointing. The sometimes beautiful descriptive prose couldn't offset the ridiculously unbelievable plot and central character or the overall choppy Hemingway wanna-be style. And the depictions of women - who couldn't be referenced without mentioning their breasts - were problematic.

Feb 20, 2018

stunning style and story. this guy has it all. great insights on painting and therefore art. and fly fishing as well, as a few feelings transmitted on relationships. hetero, and failing or trying another(s) way.
i think this is a five out of five.
cannot cut it to lower than 80% sheeesh. what do people want? The choppy writing is great. nothing drags yo back or makes you cling to it except the joy of being told this great story.
i am very familiar with the scenery, from Santa Fe to Durango and Crested Butte and he blew me away with the insight on fishing and peace and soul of the mountains and the forests.
the beauty is always coupled with brutality, of hunting, and crime and sex and cops and smashing a fish's head against a rock to keep it. dead.
not everything is tidy or totally complete...i feel that is real. and lifelike. as long as we breathe the story is not over. sequel?
i'd read it. i learned more about painting than i ever knew.
everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course, but this is like writing a fish out of slow motion...and not running out of air.

Apr 19, 2017

I quite enjoyed this book. It reminded me a little of

I quite enjoyed this novel. It reminded me a bit of a C.J Box Novel in the background scenery.
The main character tries to fight his anger issues but not very successfully. I found myself rooting for him and shouting in my mind for him to not be so stupid when he tries to cover up his actions. He is a lost soul and rooting for a murderer is a new one for me. Well worth the read. I couldn't put it down

WCLSBlaineLibrary Feb 24, 2017

A compelling read!
A compassionate man with a violent past witnesses a man beating a horse.
His inability to let go changes his path greatly as he continues to struggle
with his own private grief.
The setting is vivid, New Mexico and Colorado rivers and mountains shine
in this well written page turner.

PimaLib_StephanieM Mar 14, 2016

I wish I could better articulate why I enjoyed this book so much. My bias toward fiction of the western United States is definitely one reason but other than that I can only say that Peter Heller creates characters and situations like no other author. This story is disturbing yet in many ways relatable because you cannot help but side with the very conflicted, very angry Jim Stegner. Although The Painter isn't dystopian like The Dog Stars, if you enjoy reading it you'll probably enjoy his other book, too.

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ArapahoeStaff26 Jun 08, 2019

Vast grass and sage plains, wooded hills. Something about the wide openness of it, the nothingness of it, the sun touching the hills off to my left. I breathed, felt the piano wires in my limb relax. The windows were rolled down and poured warm air and the tangy scents of Mormon tea and sage. I breathed. Settled. pg. 239

...and raised the revolver in two hands and braced my fists on the taut pack like a sandbag and thumbed back the hammer because it's more accurate that way than pulling it back with the trigger, and I waited three seconds for my eyes to find the shapes again in the sudden total darkness and then I put two shots into the body of his truck. pg. 245

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