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.
Praise for Peace Like a River
“You don’t see novels like this one very often. Peace Like a River reminds a reader of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong or even Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It. It’s got that pure American loss of innocence theme, that belief in and fascination with miracles, that insistence on the goodness of men outside of the law.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A compelling blend of traditional and artfully offbeat storytelling…a miracle well worth witnessing.” –Boston Globe
“The narrative picks up power and majesty, then thunders to a tragic, yet joyous, climax.” –People
“If you like a ripping good story told in robust prose that gives you goose bumps, latch onto this book – more than a novel of miracles, it is truly a miraculous novel.” –Seattle Times
“Enger has written a novel that’s boldly romantic and unabashedly appealing…it’s a journey you simply must not miss.” –Christian Science Monitor
“One of the most wondrous books I’ve read in recent years… [reminiscent of] John Irving’s A Prayer of Owen Meany, another novel infused with transformative magic.”–Charlotte Observer
“What could be unbelievable becomes extraordinary in Enger’s hands…Amazing.”—Miami Herald
“Who’s your boy then?” I inquired again. “Maybe I know him – it’s a small town.”
Again he ignored me. In fact he began to hum, an awkward surprise. First conversations are clumsy enough without the other person humming. It isn’t Midwestern behavior. It isn’t even really adult behavior. Later Orry would call it Winnie the Pooh behavior and that’s as close as I can come. He hummed and he pu ed and he did something miniature with his feet, like a blackbird keeping its balance on a tin roof, then turned and asked in a tone of courteous pleasure whether I’d care to stay and launch the kite he had brought, a kite of his own design he had carried a great long distance to fly over Lake Superior, the mightiest freshwater sea in the world.
“No wind,” I pointed out.
“Not yet,” he agreed in a tone of mild aggravation, as though the wind were being delivered by UPS. He took the kite from under his arm and shook it out. I hadn’t flown one in thirty years and was ambushed by a sneaky sense of longing.
“It’s good in the air, this one,” Rune mused. “Not that it behaves. No no! Its manners are very terrible! But what a flyer!”
As if hearing its name the kite woke riffling in his hands.