The Painter

Peter Heller, Author
Peter Heller. Knopf, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-35209-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-9045-9
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-8041-7015-4
Open Ebook - 228 pages - 978-0-385-35208-6
Library Binding - 431 pages - 978-1-62899-096-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-9043-5
Open Ebook - 194 pages - 978-1-306-68457-6
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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. In one aspect of his personality, Jim is a gentle, introspective man who reads and quotes poetry, feels at one with nature, and has full-hearted empathy with animals. But every now and then, if provocation occurs, rage—“a red blindness”—swells up in him and destroys any restraint. When the novel opens, Jim has already served prison time for beating a man who leered at his teenage daughter. Now his daughter is dead, murdered at age 15, and Jim feels bitter guilt and endless remorse for the girl’s death. After the tragedy, Jim’s wife left him. He has retreated to a little house in a Colorado valley where he is painting with new urgency, beginning an affair with his young model, and conquering his alcohol and gambling addictions. When he comes upon a man brutally beating a horse, however, Jim’s rage rises again. The rest of Heller’s story includes two murders that Jim is involved with, and also a period of artistic flowering, as paintings that portray his psychological state flow from his palette. Heller (The Dog Stars) 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. (May)
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