The Painter (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Jim Stegner is a painter and, in his own words “pretty good, somewhat famous." He's moved to Paonia, Colorado, for
the quiet—to paint, flyfish, find some peace, and perhaps draw
occasional respite from his grief over the violent death of his
daughter. Stegner is also possessed of a hair-trigger temper and
impulse-control issues. When he encounters an outfitter mercilessly
beating a horse, he becomes enraged and events unfold that make any
prayer he may have had for achieving peace very unlikely. Loosely basing
THE PAINTER on a real character, Peter Heller has crafted a novel that
not only examines the emotional interior of a gifted but troubled man,
it also lets us inside an artist's inner circle. Dealer, muse, patrons,
rivals, critics, friends and lovers surround the painter as he maintains
his tenuous hold on freedom and sobriety. This is an amazing novel made
even more so by Heller's exquisite and vivid rendering of the landscape
of Colorado and New Mexico." ~Cathy Langer, Lead Buyer for Tattered Cover    

— Cathy is our lead buyer at TC and a real expert on what's good

The term chiaroscuro, as is used in painting is the skillful juxtaposition of darkness and light to create a dramatic effect. Heller uses the concept here, appropriately, to limn the swing between violence, cruelty, hatred, fear and revenge and the almost divine inspiration manifested in paint on canvas and human love, both sexual and spiritual. It is an audacious palette wielded with skill to elicit powerful images in the mind of the reader. I think 'powerful' is perhaps the most frequently occurring word that came to my mind as I read this fine work from a clearly masterful writer. Jim Stegner, the protagonist, is a physically powerful man, son of a logger, surfer, misfit and painter in oils. He is capable of nearly mindless violence as much as he is of near trance-like production on canvas. His emotional redemption arises from fly fishing where he is similarly likely to enter a meditative state. The losses in his life, the mistakes he has made and still makes, the turmoil within himself occasioned by seemingly random stimuli all wash away in the soothing flow of water and the hiss of the fly line, and smoothing the way for his soul’s ease is a monumental task." ~Eric                                                                                                     

— Eric has been a fixture at Tattered Cover for decades and is now a most valued guest blogger


An "Must-Read" Book

After having shot a man in a Santa Fe bar, the famous artist Jim Stegner served his time and has since struggled to manage the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him.  Now he lives a quiet life. . . until the day that he comes across a hunting guide beating a small horse, and a brutal act of new violence rips his quiet life right open. Pursued by men dead set on retribution, Jim is left with no choice but to return to New Mexico and the high-profile life he left behind, where he’ll reckon with past deeds and the dark shadows in his own heart. 

About the Author

Peter Heller is the best-selling author of The Dog Stars. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Praise For…

"Breathtakingly good. . . A darkly suspenseful page turner.” —The Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Suspense with literary chops. . . . A brilliant page-turner about an artist with a dark streak." —Reader's Digest
“A moving story about love, celebrity, and the redemptive power of art.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Heart-thumping . . . culminating in an ingeniously played final twist." —The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A taut tale of anger, revenge and inspiration.” —Dallas Morning News
“Amazing. . . . The contrast between serene nature and extreme action made The Dog Stars such a sensation. Heller uses it again well in The Painter.” —The Miami Herald

“[A] carefully composed story about one man’s downward turning life in the American West. . . . Beautiful near-visionary descriptions.” —The Boston Globe
“[Heller’s] 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 Colorado and New Mexico landscapes evoked in The Painter give the novel a deeper than usual sense of place.” —The New York Times
“More than a little wondrous. . . . [Heller’s] writing is strong and sure, at turns fizzy and sensual, dark and brooding, as filled with love as it is with suspense. This is stuff you'll taste in the back of your throat and feel at your nerves' ends.” —Jackson Free Press
“Jim Stegner may be a mess of a man, but it’s fascinating watching Heller plumb his broken soul.” —Salt Lake City Weekly
“Offers modern twists on the ancient themes of family, duty, revenge, and justice. . . . Heller creates in Stegner a . . . flawed, reflective, and fully realized protagonist.” —Outside Magazine

The Painter achieves the rare alchemy that makes it simultaneously an intellectually provocative literary novel and a pace-quickening thriller. . . . Compulsively readable . . . Heller gives you everything you could hope for in a great summer novel.” —Nashville Scene

“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 Radio

“The ghost of [Hemingway] drifts through the novel, in style and subject matter. Heller, however, has his own voice.” —The Columbus Dispatch

“At times suspenseful, at times melancholy, at times spiritual, but always engrossing.” —Library Journal (starred)
“A good book about being bad. . . .The Painter is a dark relative of David James Duncan’s The River. . . . Vividly American. . . . Tremendously ambitious, a well-landed punch on the side of rugged masculinity.Washington Independent Review of Books

"[A] masterful novel, in which love (parental and romantic), artistic vision, guilt, grief, and spine-chilling danger propel a suspenseful plot." —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)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780804170154
ISBN-10: 0804170150
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries