The Painter by Peter Heller

Adult Fiction pick by Jean-Louis


(Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2014)

I love to discover a new writer who takes me on a different kind of journey. Reading Peter Heller’s new novel, The Painter, took me on a ride I had not expected when I picked up the book.

Jim Stegner, our narrator is a man with a fierce sense of honour and a hair-trigger violent streak which tends to get him into trouble. His moral compass often leads him into situations which a cooler head might make him avoid. And these scrapes–okay some are downright deadly–were the least interesting parts of the book.

Our narrator is also a world-famous painter and an avid fisherman. I can freely admit that I have no talent for either art or for fishing so I cannot be sure if our author is giving an accurate description of these two activities, but I will say that Heller was most convincing to me. Jim Stegner is a compulsive artist and fisherman and both activities transport him away from the emotional and physical terrors which plague him. In reading the book, we get to participate in this art making and the release of fishing. Heller does an equally masterful job of evoking the artist’s vision and passion while also transporting us to the cool waters of a mountain stream as we cast for the elusive trout.

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