NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the national bestselling author of The Dog Stars comes a "carefully composed story about one man’s downward turning life in the American West” (The Boston Globe).
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.
Jim Stegner, celebrated painter, ardent fisherman and homespun philosopher, narrates this masterful novel, in which love (parental and romantic), artistic vision, guilt, grief, and spine-chilling danger propel a suspenseful plot. In one aspect of his personality, Jim is a gentle, introspective man who reads and quotes poetry, feels at one with nature, and has full-hearted empathy with animals. But every now and then, if provocation occurs, rage "a red blindness" swells up in him and destroys any restraint. When the novel opens, Jim has already served prison time for beating a man who leered at his teenage daughter. Now his daughter is dead, murdered at age 15, and Jim feels bitter guilt and endless remorse for the girl's death. After the tragedy, Jim's wife left him. He has retreated to a little house in a Colorado valley where he is painting with new urgency, beginning an affair with his young model, and conquering his alcohol and gambling addictions. When he comes upon a man brutally beating a horse, however, Jim's rage rises again. The rest of Heller's story includes two murders that Jim is involved with, and also a period of artistic flowering, as paintings that portray his psychological state flow from his palette. Heller (The Dog Stars) is equally skillful at describing the creation of a painting as he is at describing the thrilling details of a gunfight. Here, he explores the mysteries of the human heart and creates an indelible portrait of a man searching for peace, while seeking to maintain his humanity in the face of violence and injustice.
This book is a gift
This story is powerful and fast. Never have I fished. I don't like them. I don't eat them. And yet, I was mesmerized by the beauty of those sequences.
I read this first for the story. Driven, sad, colorful. I reread it for the music embedded in this tale.
Note to Peter Heller: write faster!
A reader, Anna
The mere idea of painting a portrait of society, with a spotlight focused on the confusing grey between good and evil, where most reside, is intriguing. With stylistic writing, Heller has pulled it off. With a dash of cobalt where most would use cadmium. Where we see good, many see evil or where many see evil, someone sees good. Such is democracy in a heavily sin spiced world. Well done, especially if you like rare.
Excellent, very well written and Heller keeps the tension through out.