Peter Heller
Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave

Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave

From the publisher: "With grit, poetry, and humor, Peter Heller, acclaimed author of The River recounts his remarkable journey of discovery—of surfing, an entirely new challenge; of the ocean's beauty and power; of the strange surf subculture; of love; and, most of all, of how to seek adventure while crafting a meaningful life. Having resolved to master a big-hollow wave—that is, to go from kook (surfese for beginner) to shredder—in a single year, Heller travels from Southern California down the coast of Mexico in the company of his girlfriend and the eccentric surfers they meet. Exuberant and fearless, Heller explores the technique and science of surfing the secrets of its culture, and the environmental ravages to the stunning coastline he visits."

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The River

The River

This is my favorite book of the year, to date: a tightly-written wilderness adventure, a lyrical mystery, and a heartrending story of friendship, rolled into one. Gorgeous and terrifying.

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The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars

Hig is the lone survivor of a flu pandemic, save for his dog and a gun-toting loner. Or so he thinks. When he receives a random transmission on the radio, he begins to dream of what might exist beyond life on the hangar. Heller’s post-apocalyptic novel is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD but you don’t have to have read that in order to appreciate the way Heller examines the landscape between hope and despair.

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Celine

Celine

Private investigator Celine is a recovering alcoholic with emphysema who specializes in finding missing persons. When a young woman asks Celine to find her missing photographer father, Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, where it becomes clear someone wants this man to stay missing. Read this for the way Heller writes about nature and explores the intersection of family, privilege, and the secrets we keep.

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The Painter

The Painter

Author:

From the publisher: "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."

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The Guide

The Guide

Author:

Seasoned wilderness writer Heller tries his hand at the thriller genre in this follow-up to The River“The virus from three years back that kept mutating, the superbug that finally broke out of India.” Though not a sequel, The Guide picks up Jack’s story several years after The River ends, and spoilers to the previous book’s ending are embedded in the plot. Jack has graduated from Dartmouth and come home to Colorado. Now he’s taken a summer job as a fly-fishing guide at a luxe resort that caters to celebrity clientele. He’s lucky, it seems—it’s rare for a guide to leave mid-season, but his predecessor did. Jack is paired with Allison, a country music star born and raised in East Tennessee who loves to fish for the same reasons Jack does—to enjoy the full absorption the sport requires. Jack’s first clue that something is amiss is the camera. Totally fascinating—the first book I’ve read that incorporates covid into the plot in a necessary and artful manner.

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