The first novel in ten years from award-winning, million-copy bestselling author Leif Enger, Virgil Wander is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart
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.
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.
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Storytelling at its best!
Have you ever read a book that, when you’re not reading it, you missed the characters terribly?
Have you ever read a book that reading didn’t seem like reading at all, but rather people and scenes coming to life on the page... and the words were so colorful and flowed so smoothly?
Have you ever read a book that when somebody asks you what it’s about you can only respond, “It’s just so good!”?
Who is Virgil Wander? Nobody really, but at the same time somebody very special. As are Rune, Nadine, Bjorn, Galen and all the other characters who reside in Greenstone.
If you’re searching for a book containing captivating characters engaging in a number of enchanting vignettes of events written by a master storyteller, then Virgil Wander is your book