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Thursday, January 29, 2009

So Brave, Young, and Handsome


I was very excited to read this book since I love Leif Enger's first book Peace Like a River (see previous post). I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed by it because I didn't love it as much as Peace. It is, however, still a very good book and the more I think about it, the more I like it which says to me that I'll probably come to love it. We'll see.


It is about an ordinary man, Monte Becket, a postal worker living in Minnesota in the early 1900's. He has written a book that becomes a bestseller and has high hopes for writing more but seems to be unable to complete another one. His problems seem to stem from his, well, lack of problems. His life is ordinary and dull as the first paragraph attests:


"Not to disappoint you, but my troubles are nothing-not for an author, at least. Common blots aside, I have none of the usual Big Artillery: I am not penniless, brilliant, or an orphan; have never been to war, suffered starvation or lashed myself to a mast. My health is adequate, my wife steadfast, my son decent and promising. I am not surrounded by people who don't understand me! In fact most understand me straight-away, for I am and always was an amiable fellow and reliably polite. You, a curious stranger, could walk in this moment; I would offer you coffee and set you at ease. Would we talk pleasantly? Indeed we would, though you'd soon be bored-here on Page One I don't even live in interesting surroundings, such as in a hospital for the insane, or on a tramp steamer, or in Madrid."


Later in the book he claims that: "my finest virtue was the distance I had maintained from death". And upon hearing an older man say that he became invisible to his wife, that "if I touched her she'd see me again, but pretty soon, out I'd fade" he fears that he, too, will become invisible to his wife because he hasn't accomplished much since his book was published and all hopes for subsequent novels have faded.


Monte befriends an older man who is running from the law, and ends up having all kinds of adventures and meeting interesting characters, actually being part of life instead of just writing about it.

As in his first book, Leif Enger has a tremendous way with a turn of phrase. I love the way he says things! One of my favorites from this book: "He talked like a former mute distrustful of the cure." I think that this would be a good book for a book club. Questions can be found at http://www.groveatlantic.com/

The book is very clean-some violence with shootings, fights, and such as you would expect from someone having an adventure. Rated PG.

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