I've written about Peter Heller's second novel twice for other venues
and although I've both read and listened to it, I haven't yet talked
about The Painter here on Beth Fish Reads.
Here's why: I loved so much about this book that I don't want to dissect and analyze it; I just want to savor the story. So instead of a review, I'm giving you a Today's Read and a teaser. Minus my usual opening questions.
I never imagined I would shoot a man. Or be a father. Or live so far from the sea.—The Painter by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House / A. A. Knopf, 2014, p. 3, uncorrected proof)
- Setting: small-town Colorado, the American Southwest wilderness, Santa Fe; modern times
- Circumstances: Painter and fly-fisherman Jim Stegner—sometimes short tempered, always mourning his losses—crosses the wrong man on a deserted Colorado road. When his anger gets the best of him, Stegner begins to unravel
- Characters: Jim Stegner: painter and fly-fisherman; Dell, Grant, and Jason: men you don't want to know; Sofia: model and friend; neighbors and friends, people from Jim's past
- Genre: part psychological thriller, part character study
- Things I thought about: the thin line between good and evil; the way life can change in the blink of an eye; the tight-knit communities of small towns; love; violence; doing the right thing (and knowing what that is)
- Things I love about Heller: his descriptions of the landscape, of the artist at work, and of fishing; his ability to find the aching, tender points of his characters; the starkness and beauty of his prose
- Audiobook: The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 11 hr, 26 min) is performed by Mark Deakins, whose sensitive reading is well worth the listen. (For more on the audiobook, see my review for AudioFile magazine.)
- One more thing: The best book I've read this year