What Joy! To read a book by a fabulously talented author that is not only beautifully written but a hoot to boot, it is pure pleasure. So Brave, So Young, and Handsome by Lief Enger is that rare book
Monte worked at the post office until he wrote his first book and was surprised by its success. Writing seemed more alluring than his post office job, he quit, planning to write a 1000 pages a day. Well those pages did not fly off his fingertips easily, after five years he is still searching for the words to put on the page. He suspects he may have only had the one book in him.
As he sits on his dock by the river one day, hoping for inspiration, a man goes by standing up in a boat. Monte is charmed by the image and curious about the man. His son, Redstart, tracks down the boater (not much gets past Redstart) and drags him home to dinner.
It turns out the mystery man, Glendon, really does have secrets. Twenty years ago he vamoosed just ahead of the law, leaving behind his young bride. He wants to find her and apologize. Monte goes along to help; finding a lot more adventure than he planned. Glendon turns out to have been a real Hole In the Wall gang bandit, he was running from the law in earnest, not just escaping from a one time crime. Pretty soon we have a Pinkerton agent, sharp shooting rodeo queens, escapes from the law, conflagrations and floods! Monte begins to wonder if he will ever see his lovely wife Susannah or son Redstart again.
All of this and beautiful writing too! What a lark!— Deon Stonehouse
Now in paperback, the new novel by Leif Enger, author of the million-copy best seller, Peace Like a River, is a lively, big-hearted redemption tale; an unforgettable, picaresque Western yarn.
In 1915 Minnesota, writer Monte Becket has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives simply with his wife and son until he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale. Plagued by guilt over abandoning his wife two decades ago, Glendon aims to go back West on a quest for absolution. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Monte agrees to travel into Glendon's past, leaving behind his own family for a journey that will test the depth of his loyalties and morals, and the strength of his resolve. As they flee the relentless ex-Pinkerton who's been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls ever further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.
With its smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, So Brave, Young, and Handsome examines one ordinary man's determination as he risks everything in order to understand what it's all worth, and follows an unlikely dream in the hope it will lead him back home.
Deserves to become a classic.”The Miami Herald
An almost perfect novel . . . A great read.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A sharp and brainy redemption tale . . . [Enger’s] laid claim to a musical, sometimes magical, and deeply satisfying kind of storytelling.”Los Angeles Times
An adventure of the heart and mind.”Washington Post Book World
Enger is a formidably gifted writer. . . . At times reminiscent of the sinew and gristle in the craggier work of Annie Proulx, and at other times aspiring to a Jean Shepherdesque folk poetry.”Chicago Tribune
A fine novel . . . worthy of comparison with Shane and Monte Walsh and True Grit.”Dallas Morning News
Superbly written, utterly compelling . . . A cracking good adventure tale.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)