“The Painter” by Peter Heller
I completely ravaged this novel, loved every minute of it and now consider myself a Heller groupie. The story is about a guy named Jim. He is a normal guy, a rough-around-the-edges guy, who lives in Taos with strong roots in Santa Fe. He also happens to be a fairly successful artist – successful enough that he can make a living by it. That would be layer one. Layer two involves a lot of darkness; three years of sobriety following a stint in jail, the death of a teenage daughter, uncontrollable anger. Even with some of the dark parts, Jim is someone I loved from the very first. I loved him even more when he got into a fight with a large, chaw-chewing hunter named Dell who was beating a small horse. I didn’t even mind when, a few nights later, Jim killed the guy.
What follows is the best story, the story of dealing with grief and trying to come to terms with what kind of a man you are (he always thought he was a good man, but he has done some bad things), but also the story of how all of these issues manifest in his painting. Very reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, but skewed wonderfully towards the art world.
The Painter by Peter Heller (Knopf, 9780385352093, May 6, 2014)