Virgil Wander (Hardcover)
Reading Leif Enger's Virgil Wander was pure pleasure for me. I loved his debut, Peace Like a River, and am happy to say that 17 years later he still has the same touch: humorous, yet also poignant and complex, with a memorable cast of characters in a richly detailed Minnesota setting. Virgil is a low-achiever who runs the local old-time movie house in a small declining city on the banks of Lake Superior. Rune Arledge, a kite-flying transplant from Norway, and Galen Pea, a 10-year-old obsessed with catching the 200-pound sturgeon he blames for his father's death, are two more resilient characters in a marvelous cast I quickly grew to love. Classic and modern movies are a recurring theme, along with a robust plot involving a local hero, a malevolent movie maker, and an upcoming town festival. Virgil Wander is one of those novels you are eager to return to, are loathe to finish, and keep thinking about long after the last page is turned.— Sarah
October 2018 Indie Next List
“From the fated flight of Virgil Wander’s Pontiac into the frigid waters of Lake Superior to an encounter with Rune, an enigmatic kite enthusiast searching for word of a long-lost son, and other interactions with the citizens of Greenstone, Minnesota, Leif Enger’s new novel is a most welcome, albeit quirky, story of words and people lost and found. Lovers of Peace Like a River, rejoice! Enger is back with another enchanting and enriching tale of community and revival, with his ever-deft touch of magic and grace. A perfect remedy for those whose hearts ache from our present reality, Virgil Wanderis a treasure to be shared with all readers.”
— Mark Nichols, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
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.