Virgil Wander (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


It’s almost cruel to tell you about this book when it’s not scheduled for publication until October, because Virgil Wander is a keeper!  It’s been ten years since Leif Enger’s last book, So Brave, Young and Handsome and seventeen years since his blockbuster, Peace Like a River.  
Traveling along highway 61 along the north shore of Lake Superior, on a snowy evening, headed for his home town of Greenstone, Minnesota, Virgil Wander hits an icy patch and catapults off a cliff and into Lake Superior.  Thus, Act II of his life begins.  And here is where the people of Greenstone begin to light up the story.  Like any small town, its citizens vary from the town drunk, the bad guy, the sad guy and the beautiful girl.  And here is when Leif Enger’s wonderful story-telling begins.  It’s the very first paragraph that hooked me: “Now I think the picture was unspooling all along and I just failed to notice.  The obvious really isn’t so - at least it wasn’t to me, a Midwestern male cruising at medium altitude, aspiring vaguely to decency, contributing to PBS, moderate in all things including romantic forays, and doing unto others more or less reciprocally.”  How could you not want to know where his life goes from there?
Virgil owns the broken down Empress Theater in Greenstone, Minnesota and also serves as City Clerk.  Ten years previously, the town suffered a singular incident when the town sports hero took off in an airplane, last seen flying over Lake Superior, and never returned.  No wreckage or body was ever found…except for the discovery of a salvaged plane tire ten years later.  He left a young wife and an eight-year-old son.  That incident has stayed in memory ever since.
Greenstone was the hub for the taconite industry in the 1950s but since its demise, has fallen on hard times. The town and its people hang on, doing whatever it takes to make a living, and, typical of small towns, support one another when needed.  Greenstone is struggling to keep its head above water.  The stories of its citizens unfold with hardly a person you do not like.  The one “bad guy” is sleazy and devious, and the ending…well, let’s just say you’ll be thinking about what reeeeally happened?  Great writing!!  I haven’t read So Brave, Young and Handsome, but you better believe it’s on my list. And if you’ve never read Peace Like a River, you’re in for a treat!

— Karen Langs

October 2018 Indie Next List


“From the fated flight of Virgil Wander’s Pontiac into the frigid waters of Lake Superior to an encounter with Rune, an enigmatic kite enthusiast searching for word of a long-lost son, and other interactions with the citizens of Greenstone, Minnesota, Leif Enger’s new novel is a most welcome, albeit quirky, story of words and people lost and found. Lovers of Peace Like a River, rejoice! Enger is back with another enchanting and enriching tale of community and revival, with his ever-deft touch of magic and grace. A perfect remedy for those whose hearts ache from our present reality, Virgil Wanderis a treasure to be shared with all readers.”
— Mark Nichols, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Description


The first novel in ten years from award-winning, million-copy bestselling author Leif Enger, Virgil Wander is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart

Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is "cruising along at medium altitude" when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals--from Rune, a twinkling, pipe-smoking, kite-flying stranger investigating the mystery of his disappeared son; to Nadine, the reserved, enchanting wife of the vanished man, to Tom, a journalist and Virgil's oldest friend; and various members of the Pea family who must confront tragedies of their own. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town.

With intelligent humor and captivating whimsy, Leif Enger conjures a remarkable portrait of a region and its residents, who, for reasons of choice or circumstance, never made it out of their defunct industrial district. Carried aloft by quotidian pleasures including movies, fishing, necking in parked cars, playing baseball and falling in love, Virgil Wander is a swift, full journey into the heart and heartache of an often overlooked American Upper Midwest by a "formidably gifted" (Chicago Tribune) master storyteller.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802128782
ISBN-10: 0802128785
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018
Pages: 352
Language: English
 

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