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The Painter: A novel Audiobook, by Peter Heller Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Heller Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2014 ISBN: 9780804190442
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The brawls and chase scenes have an edge-of-your-seatness that kept me turning the pages swiftly…When Jim takes to the mountains or streams, an unwound lyricism takes over, Heller at his best…He has a keen, worshipful eye when describing the natural world: a trout hooked, a wave surfed…An ultimately moving story about love, celebrity, and the redemptive power of art.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The forty-five-year-old painter Jim Stegner, the title character of Peter Heller’s second novel, is a Renaissance man of the American West. He reads T. S. Eliot and listens to Tom Waits…He also has a bad habit, when his temper flares, of shooting at people and braining them with rocks…Jim’s life changes decisively when he comes upon a blustery stranger abusing a small horse. Suspenseful scenes with the local authorities and vigilantes of various stripes propel the novel. Mr. Heller’s…close attention to the natural world serves his fiction well. The Colorado and New Mexico landscapes evoked in The Painter give the novel a deeper than usual sense of place.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] carefully composed story about one man’s downward turning life in the American West…Beautiful near-visionary descriptions…I read with great fascination.”

    Boston Globe

  • “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…Heller 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.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Heller’s writing is sure-footed and rip-roaring, star-bright and laced with ‘dark yearning,' coalescing in an ever-escalating, ravishing, grandly engrossing, and satisfying tale of righteousness and revenge, artistic fervor and moral ambiguity.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “At times suspenseful, at times melancholy, at times spiritual, but always engrossing. Jim is no hero, but he is certainly compelling. Difficult to define by genre, this novel embraces themes of personal loss and growth, drama and suspense, while also including plenty for those who enjoy art or nature fiction. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Narrator Mark Deakins taps into the painter’s deepest self, bringing a full range of emotion to his performance in a way that gives listeners room to form their own reactions. Tuning into the rhythm of the prose, Deakins’s reading flows no matter the nature of the scene—from a frenzied painting session in the art studio to a contemplative afternoon on a trout stream and from the violence of men to the sweetness of love. His respectful narration enlivens the story yet keeps the spotlight fully on the author’s stark prose and vivid descriptions. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, May 2014
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice

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About the Author

Peter Heller is the bestselling author of The Painter and The Dog Stars, among others. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, he is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry.

About the Narrator

Mark Deakins is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator and actor whose television appearances include Head Case, Star Trek: Voyager, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His film credits include Intervention, Star Trek: Insurrection, and The Devil’s Advocate. He wrote, directed, and produced the short film The Smith Interviews.