The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All

Josh Ritter. Hanover Square, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-335-52253-5
Novelist and singer-songwriter Ritter (Bright’s Passage) explores the mythic lore of lumberjacks in this sweeping and magic-filled tale. Weldon Applegate, 99, recounts the woolly exploits of his youth in Idaho, where he learned the dangerous and endangered logging trade from his father, Tom. Particularly poignant among the wide-ranging flashbacks is the moment when Tom leaves for the logging camp when Weldon is 13, several years after Weldon’s mother died, despite a warning from Sohvia, their 30-something live-in witch, that if Tom leaves he will not return alive. Sohvia then keeps Weldon company in the months until his father’s mutilated dead body is returned from the camp. The cast of characters is a busy and colorful bunch, but front and center are Weldon’s nemeses: Joe Mouffreau, a “short-necked, spindle-armed, lite-beer-drinking” lumberjack who’s now seeing Weldon’s born-again ex-girlfriend Marsha, 97 (they’d dated when Weldon was in his 80s), and soulless, imposing “woods boss” Linden Laughlin, who covets Weldon’s precious “Lost Lot,” a mountain rich in timber he’d inherited from his father. As Joe and Linden circle like vultures while Weldon’s on his death bed, his stories add up to a wistful look at a bygone era. Ritter lyrically evokes a town fused to the logging industry by necessity and devotion through Weldon’s anecdotal narration, which resonates with a shimmery, deep-seated humanity. Ritter scores another hit. Agent: Lucy Carson, the Friedrich Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/02/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Fiction
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