Peter Heller at Parnassus Books

The Painter by Peter HellerThursday, June 12, was an exciting day. That morning I had an ultrasound and found out I’m having a baby boy. That evening, after a quick couch-nap, I went to Parnassus Books in Green Hills to hear Peter Heller read from his new book The Painter.

I picked The Dog Stars up for my father-in-law without having read it. He liked it, and then I decided to read it. I was shocked at how lyrical it was, how simply and how deeply told it was. The story riveted me. I like a well-told apocalyptic tale, and I have dogs, so the sweet pooch in the book struck an emotional chord as well. Plus there was poetry! And nature!

I almost didn’t go to the reading. I was tired from an already exciting day, and I almost let my pregnant self stay home napping on the couch. Then I thought, I can take my boy to the reading, from inside me. He can hear the words, and he can benefit from the reading. So I went for him and for me (mostly for me, though). And I’m so glad I did.

Mr. Heller was nice and funny and personable, and he read to us.

“Adults don’t get read to often enough,” he said, “so I want to read to you.”

It was nice to hear his new book in his voice. The book, as you can tell from the title, is about a painter. He related writing to painting, and went on to say that some painters (and writers) work slowly, and others work quickly. After reading several passages sprinkled with stories about writing the book, he opened up the floor for questions.

I raised my hand and asked if he wrote slowly or quickly, and I got an extensive, insightful answer. The short answer, though, is that Peter Heller writes fast. You should have been there to hear the rest of the answer! After the reading he signed books. I had one signed for my father-in-law and one signed for me. Then I asked if it would show my generation (“Yes, it would,” he said.) if we took a selfie together. And so we did.

Me and Peter Heller at Parnassus Books.
Me and Peter Heller at Parnassus Books.

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