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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 heartMidwestern 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 townWith 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


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    What a gorgeous quirky and utterly charming book Leif Enger may have made us wait 10 years since his last book but his newest Virgil Wander is definitely worth the waitVirgil Wander is the slightly curmudgeonish owner of The Empress a movie theater in decline in the town of Greenstone Minnesota—which is also in the midst of its decline One evening on a snowy night in early autumn Virgil's car goes flying off a bridge and into the frigid Lake Superior Fortunately the owner of the town's local salvage yard happened to be hunting for saleable wares on the shore when Virgil's car went airborne so he was able to save Virgil's lifeAmazingly Virgil comes out of the accident concussed struggling with finding the correct words particularly adjectives and living with the memory lapses typical of those sustaining brain injuries At the same time he emerged with a different personality endearing decisive friendly caring—qualities which are much appreciated by the motley group of friends and townspeople who live in GreenstoneIf I were to pinpoint when the world began reorganizing itself—that is when my seeing of it began to shift—it would be the day a stranger named Rune blew into our bad luck town of Greenstone Minnesota like a spark from the boreal gloomInto this broken town comes Rune an affable Norwegian man and kite creating magician He came after learning that his last trip to the United States years and years ago led to the birth of a son he never knew about—only to learn that this son minor league baseball pitcher Alec Sandstrom had died in a mysterious plane crash Alec was a mythical figure in the small town and his disappearance still affected many including his widow Nadine and their teenage son BjornAs Rune tries to assemble a portrait of the son he never knew and perhaps start a relationship with the grandson he didn't know he had he and Virgil build a close friendship with each depending on each other But the gorgeous kites that Rune creates and flies captivate the town's residents who feel freer unburdened after taking a turn at the stringsHowever Greenstone has been known as a town of hard luck for many years and it will continue to live up to its reputation The town's residents experience tragedies strange occurrences and the return of a prodigal son whose presence both enlivens and frightens And while Greenstone's residents show their characteristic resilience they also experience moments of extreme joy and connection all set against the gorgeous open Midwestern landscapeThis is a difficult book to describe but it felt so wonderful almost like a hug in literary form The novel meanders a bit and these characters are definitely Midwestern Quirky but they are so charming and endearing At times it almost takes on a fairy tale quality but it isn't fantastical or beyond the pale of reality for the most part Virgil Wander is a book about rebuilding your life and finding yourself again about fighting the battles you need to in order to move on about friendship family love and the charm of a small town where everyone knows everyone's business Enger is a magnificent writer as evidenced by his two earlier books Peace Like a River and So Brave Young and Handsome and he deserves a place alongside writers such as Kent HarufYou won't be able to get this one out of your mind—or your heartNetGalley and Grove Atlantic provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review Thanks for making this available See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoriablogspotcom or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at