Virgil Wander (Paperback)

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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


The first novel in ten years from award-winning, bestselling author Leif Enger, Virgil Wander is a sweeping story of new beginnings against all odds that follows the inhabitants of a hard luck town in their quest to revive its flagging heart. Carried aloft by quotidian pleasures of kite-flying, movies, fishing, baseball, necking in parked cars and falling in love, Virgil Wander is a swift, full journey into the heart and heartache of an often overlooked upper Midwest by an award-winning master storyteller.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802147127
ISBN-10: 0802147127
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: August 20th, 2019
Pages: 320
Language: English
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