The Painter: A novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Peter Heller, the celebrated author of the breakout best seller The Dog Stars, returns with an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful second novel about an artist trying to outrun his past.
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.
Lily would never hear about it and that I would know exactly what to paint when I got to it. Now I smoke and breathe trying to shake off the fight. Cloudy tonight like a lid, down over the top of Lamborn. Smell of dampness. The rain that didn’t fall this afternoon is gathering up there. Maybe tonight. Maybe the sweep and drum of it on the metal roof, a sound so loud and whelming and sweet it turns the bed into a little boat and thoughts into a wind that blows on northward. What they should do in
skinned alive, didn’t know what to do with all those acute impressions and so made his poems. I can see why Pete Doerr was fascinated by him. I mean Rilke wrote the Duino Elegies in three weeks in the so named castle. I paint fast, but not that fast. Anyway, I admired Rilke as I read him and loved some of his poems, especially the part in the Elegies where he talks about animals, and the one poem about the panther in the cage which has to just slay you: As he paces in cramped circles, over and
screaming, a madness, high, beyond whinny or snort, something human almost. I am on the man. I topple him and he is under me and we roll into the ditch. There is water in the ditch. Cold and it shocks. He is beside me flailing his arms trying to get back and I am hitting him, I feel something give, the pulp of his nose and he is pushing up and back scrambling. “Hey what the—” He is scrambling back fast then standing above me on the road blinking, his nose trickling blood. Trying to digest. The
other side roads first. Because he is methodical. He will eliminate first one then the other and you will be long gone, forked off onto whatever myriad tracks up ahead. I didn’t hear him. Maybe it was the blood pounding in my ears. I didn’t hear anything. But I figured a minute had passed, plenty long enough, too long, and then I started the truck and backed out and continued on up, jounced over the line where the road turned to dirt, washboarded as it climbed, and took it with a mission but not
the Albuquerque Journal, the Inrock alternative weekly, and the magazine Art in America. The news girl was wearing a red knit rolltop sweater, tight black pants and stilettos, and her lipstick matched her top. Definitely local. Her hair was sprayed into stiff curls at the edges of her cheeks. She looked Navajo and a little tense, like she was on her first big assignment. The print reporters started right in. Mr. Stegner Mr. Stegner can you confirm that you are a suspect in two murders? Do you