Virgil Wander

Leif Enger. Atlantic Monthly (PGW, dist.), $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2878-2
The well-meaning sad sack who narrates this poignant novel from Enger (Peace Like a River) has just driven his car into icy Lake Superior when the book opens. Suffering from a concussion and possibly hallucinations, Virgil, the middle-aged town clerk and owner of a decrepit money pit of a movie theater, decides to take his emergence from the lake as a sign of rebirth. He’s aided in that endeavor by a mysterious, kite-flying Norwegian stranger named Rune, who has just arrived in the decaying former mining town of Greenstone, Minn., with “a hundred merry crinkles at his eyes and a long-haul sadness in his shoulders.” Rune is looking for information about a son he has only recently learned of, a gifted Minor League Baseball player who took off in a small plane a few years back and was never seen again, leaving behind a wife, “the tempestuous Nadine,” for whom Virgil has silently pined for years. Greenstone is one of those folksy Minnesota towns just a little north of the literary territory of Lake Wobegon, full of characters doing their awkward best, with a touch of evil added by nihilist screenwriter Adam Leer, who has returned to his hometown for nefarious if not entirely defined purposes. Enger’s novel gives magical realism a homely Midwestern twist, and should have very broad appeal. Agent: Molly Friedrich, the Friedrich Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Ebook - 978-0-8021-4668-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8021-4712-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-980027-51-5
Library Binding - 519 pages - 978-1-4328-5809-4
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