Monday, April 25, 2011

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger

When Leif Enger wrote Peace Like a River, he wrote a modern American classic. It's a novel so beautiful that I read it four times and was deeply affected by the Christian allegory and the beauty of the language. In my opinion Peace Like a River is the grown up The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. It is a book that is so very rich.
Mr. Enger's book is loved by many and it means something to a lot of people. Imagine then the task of writing something new. Harper Lee never published a sophomore book. To Kill A Mockingbird is her only published novel, but it's a jewel.
So Brave, Young and Handsome is not Peace Like a River a book that I believe should live in the American literary canon forever, but it is a great book.
The characters have depth, they are engaging. The writing is sublime. It's ironically, the story of a writer who wrote one great book and has terrible expectations on his shoulders for the next... but after writing seven starts, puts it all away to help a neighbor find repentance on a wild goose chase across the west. I was sorry to finish the final page and say goodbye to people that I'd come to understand and enjoy and like so very much.

These cowboys didn't mind a lone horseman traveling through and confirmed
for Glendon that the river he followed was in fact the Rienda. Yes, it went all the way to the ocean. Yes, a region of citrus orchards awaited him downriver. No doubt the cowboys sense in this veteran horseman a lush deposit of stories, for they asked him to stay for an evening of music and fiery drink, but Glendon said no, he was too
near the end of his own tale now. He nudged Sparrow and they continued on, keeping the river on their left. ~Leif Enger So Brave, Young and Handsome


Janice said...

I wanted to like this book but I just didn't.

Jennifer said...

Interesting premise of the second-book challenge. I'm eager to take a look. I love "Peace Like a River"-- it's probably in my all-time top five. If you read it a fifth time, look for the imagery of conduits: electricity in addition to water. I took that mindset on my second reading and was amazed at all I found. Don't you wish Enger would write Swede's epic poem of Valdez?

love.boxes said...

Jennifer, I agree. .. top 5 for sure. I will certainly be reading it again and I will look for that. What I love is the Mosaic/Christ imagery throughout beginning with the idea that Jeremiah (a name which means Yahweh (God) has lifted up) is in medical school. Are doctors not kings in the professional world. Jesus was meant to be King of the Jews.. Moses was meant to be the Prince of Egypt.. but, God has another mission in mind and Jeremiah instead becomes a lowly janitor who is sent to save.. on a mission in the wilderness w/out a place to lay his head. .. I can never decide if Jeremiah is a type of Christ or a type of Moses. Thoughts?
Enger is so brilliant that I may have missed a lot in his second book.
I would love to read that epic poem, but Enger doesn't seem to like to tie up every lose end. :)

love.boxes said...

I looked it up.. the literary critics think Christ, which considering the ending, makes more sense.

Jennifer said...

Forgive me if this is overkill after trying earlier today to bypass Blogger's shutdown when I tried to comment again. I also really liked the rich Christ-figure imagery. The water and electricity metaphors I mentioned, layered atop those strong Christian themes, made me reflect that a prophet is truly a conduit for God. Great book.

P.S. Your mother sets a beautiful table.

love.boxes said...

Brilliant Jennifer! Thanks for sharing that. I didn't think of that. It really makes me worry that I've missed a lot in So Brave, Young and Handsome. Maybe someday there will be an Leif Enger class... if so, I'm signed up :)