Book Review: The Painter by Peter Heller
May 22, 2014 6 Comments
The Painter: What it is about
From the publishers: “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.“
The Painter: What I thought
I loved Heller’s first novel, The Dog Stars, and I hoped for another great read. I was a little disappointed. The story is slow, very slow. Jim self-indulges in grief and misery a lot. Maybe that’s not surprising, given his background, but it didn’t make for a particularly interesting read. I could have done without some of his thinking and philosophizing.
On the other hand, there was also a good story in this book. Jim does something he never thought he could do, which changes his whole life. Okay, so he turns into a criminal. It’s sort of a turned-around mystery. You hope the criminal, Jim, does not get caught. How odd is that? But even though his crime was pretty bad, I could not help thinking it was a one-off. Until it wasn’t. And even then I was on his side.
So, my mind was played with quite badly. That was so well done! Overall, the story was just too slow, unfortunately.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (Okay to good)
Number of pages: 288
First published: 2014
I got this: from the publishers, Knopf, for review
Genre: contemporary fiction