Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Book Review: The Painter by Peter Heller
Author: Peter Heller
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Library Copy
Content Alert: Violence, a sex scene, some strong language
For the first time in his life, Jim Stegner seems to have found a bit of peace. He grew up rough in a family of loggers in the Pacific Northwest, and found unlikely success as a painter. He did time for shooting a man in a bar fight, divorced the love of his life and the good friend who followed her as his wife, and still hasn't recovered from his teenage daughter's death. But now his work is selling well, he's not drinking, and his cabin in Colorado is a place where he can work and fish. Then he comes across a man who's beating a horse, and the old Jim temper flares, and he soon finds himself running for his life and risking others along the way.
There's plenty of action and drama in The Painter, but it's ultimately the story of Jim Stegner's character and of his ghosts. The writing is lovely and poetic, and the story is gritty and powerful, and I was completely engrossed reading about his process of creating art. Jim is a fisherman and a painter, and I found that both of these occupations worked as metaphors for the writing in the novel. It's patient and unhurried, and a reader must be patient and unhurried to enjoy the story. I'm glad I took the time The Painter deserved.