Virgil Wander
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.

Virgil Wander Details

TitleVirgil Wander
Author
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherGrove Press
ISBN-139780802128782
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction

Virgil Wander Review

  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    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 wait.Virgil 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 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 wait.Virgil 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 life.Amazingly, 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, more endearing, decisive, friendly, caring—qualities which are much appreciated by the motley group of friends and townspeople who live in Greenstone."If 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 gloom."Into 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, Bjorn.As 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 strings.However, 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 landscape.This 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 Haruf.You won't be able to get this one out of your mind—or your heart.NetGalley 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 itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    4+ stars I loved the writing from the beginning and fell for all of these quirky characters, and in the middle of the book I thought maybe this would be a nice story, predictable and sweet. I was partially right. The story ended up being more than that. In this down and out, waning town of Greenstone, MN, not far from Duluth, a lot of tough have things happened and it made perfect sense to rename their annual festival “Hard Luck Days.” Oh it’s humorous to read about them “the frog monsoon” with 4+ stars I loved the writing from the beginning and fell for all of these quirky characters, and in the middle of the book I thought maybe this would be a nice story, predictable and sweet. I was partially right. The story ended up being more than that. In this down and out, waning town of Greenstone, MN, not far from Duluth, a lot of tough have things happened and it made perfect sense to rename their annual festival “Hard Luck Days.” Oh it’s humorous to read about them “the frog monsoon” with “thousands of frogs raining down” or when the water tower “slid off its footings”, but there really is a lot of loss and sadness for the people of Greenstone. The mining and the shipping businesses were gone, the jobs were gone and people left. There are two boys who have lost their fathers, a kite flying stranger from Arctic Circle who has lost a son he never knew he had, and there is Virgil, our main character who has lost some of his memory, some of his words, mostly adjectives when his car skids off the road in a near death accident and there are the people whose fate is death. Virgil Wander, part time city clerk and owner of the The Empress, an old fashioned single screen movie theater that sees few customers, is the center of this beautifully told, albeit odd story. Yet, I fell in love with this quirky cast of characters for their kindness to each other, their compassion and how easily they know the needs of their friends. There’s something sad and melancholy about this place, these characters. I worried about them - Rune, the man with his beautiful kite creations - a dog, a bicycle, a car, a stained-glass window, a cloudberry pie and other wonderful creations that drew the town to him. I worried about ten year old Galen, who knows he has to get that sturgeon, the one his father tried to catch. I worried about Virgil and whether he’d get his adjectives but mostly whether he’d find happiness. I worried about what would happen to this place whose inhabitants were full of heart in spite of the humorous and sad things that happened and whether they would survive the evil that also existed here. These were characters I didn’t want to leave and ones that I recommend you come to know. (Peace Like a River by Enger is one of my favorite books and I would recommend that as well.)I read this with Esil and Diane as our book for September and as always a joy to discuss with them especially when we end up feeling the same way. I received an advanced copy of this book from Grove Atlantic through NetGalley.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4+ In Northern Minnesota there is a small town called Greenstone. Having lost it's industrial footing, those who remain are a hardscrabble, kind of stuck in a rut, group of people. Virgil, is our narrator, he lives above and own the local movie theater, a theater that sells few tickets, but is s community staple. At the beginning of our story, he has just been rescued after driving, accidentally or so he says, off a cliff into a body of water. Recovering he finds out that not only does his memor 4+ In Northern Minnesota there is a small town called Greenstone. Having lost it's industrial footing, those who remain are a hardscrabble, kind of stuck in a rut, group of people. Virgil, is our narrator, he lives above and own the local movie theater, a theater that sells few tickets, but is s community staple. At the beginning of our story, he has just been rescued after driving, accidentally or so he says, off a cliff into a body of water. Recovering he finds out that not only does his memory have glaring gaps, but his use of adjectives has been seriously hindered.Into this down on it luck town, come a man named rune, a man who loves and flys kites, looking for information on the son, he recently discovered he had fathered. There are small mysteries here, and a town full of quirky characters, very different people, but all intriguing. The town itself, as expected is z bit of a throwback, things happen here that seldom happen elsewhere. It has rained frogs, yes frogs not men, they have a huge vole problem, and a former pet raccoon seems to have turned rabid. There is magic, certainly magic in the kites, those flying them become calmer somehow, and more liable to talk. There is a man, a sort prodigal son, who returns and seems to want to aid the town in its recovery. Somehow though, everyone who comes into contact with him seems to suffer some misfortune. There are other characters, all unique, all intriguing and liksble.There is humor here, in the lines, in the situations characters find themselves in, willingly of not. I enjoyed this novel immensely, the people, or rather most of them seem emblematic of some I could identify in my own small town. They are flawed, likable and pull together to help each other. Virgil,himself is a wonderful character, with hopes and dreams of his own, who often reaches out a helping hand to those in need. It's been quite a few years since this author has written a new novel, and I for one think it was worth the wait. Though I hope he doesn't wait as long before writing his next.This was our monthly read for Angela, Esil and myself. Think we all fell I love with this one!ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    Ever "Wander" why a book doesn't quite work for you?Virgil Wander is the owner of the local "movie house" when his car goes off the road and into Lake Superior. The accident has left him with memory and language issues and his entire town is unfamiliar to him. Speaking of the town, there are many quirky and interesting characters who remained in their Midwestern town long after others have moved on. So, I am most likely in the minority on this book, but I have to say that I found parts of this b Ever "Wander" why a book doesn't quite work for you?Virgil Wander is the owner of the local "movie house" when his car goes off the road and into Lake Superior. The accident has left him with memory and language issues and his entire town is unfamiliar to him. Speaking of the town, there are many quirky and interesting characters who remained in their Midwestern town long after others have moved on. So, I am most likely in the minority on this book, but I have to say that I found parts of this book to be boring. Yes, there are some quirky and interesting characters but at times things just felt flat and the zaniness and the silly situations the characters found themselves in got old fast. I can't fault the writing which was very good, this is just a case of this book wasn't for me. I found myself stopping and starting this book as I found my attention wandering while reading. I believe I picked up and read four other books while attempting to finish this one. In many ways this book reminded me of Fredrik Backman's books but without the charming feel I get from them. This one left me underwhelmed. Three stars for the beautiful prose. Other's loved this book and I am reminded that we all can't love the same book. It bares to mind the sentiment that not two people read the same book. I really wanted to love this one. I choose it based on a positive review, but it didn't work for me. Was it me and not the book. I don’t know. For me, the book started slowly then got better and by the end began to lose some momentum again. Thank you to Grove Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.Read more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    4 charming stars to Virgil Wander! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Virgil Wander, the main character, owns a movie theater and lives in small town Minnesota. He has a driving accident where his car lands in frigid Lake Superior. After the accident, his memory and language are impaired, and life is completely new to him. Virgil sets out to piece his life back together with information he can find outside himself. Through some quirky characters, he is able to fill in gaps, while he helps them revitalize their sleepy, ber 4 charming stars to Virgil Wander! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Virgil Wander, the main character, owns a movie theater and lives in small town Minnesota. He has a driving accident where his car lands in frigid Lake Superior. After the accident, his memory and language are impaired, and life is completely new to him. Virgil sets out to piece his life back together with information he can find outside himself. Through some quirky characters, he is able to fill in gaps, while he helps them revitalize their sleepy, bereft of business, but not of people, town. There are also side stories with the quirky characters that add intrigue and mystery like a missing husband/son. Virgil Wander is a charming story about healing: restoring Virgil to his former glory while also restoring the town and community. The tone is somber and wistful. I wanted these characters to find happiness, for Virgil to regain his language, because I connected to them in a genuine way. They felt real, and their longing was relatable. There were times I smiled at the happenings, some moments of humor and hope amidst the sadness, and those balanced out the melancholy. I did not want to leave my time in Greenstone. I grew attached to its people, especially to Virgil. That experience alone lets me know I was enamored with this story, his story. Thank you to Atlantic Monthly Press/Grove Press for the ARC. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Dorie - Traveling Sister :)
    January 1, 1970
    This book for me was definitely a 3.5 rounded up to a 4 for the writing. I longed to read this new book by the author of “Peace Like a River” which I probably hand sold to hundreds of people. Did I love this book, no I did not, but I liked it. Here’s why:As you know from the blurb and extensive reviews Virgil Wander is the main protagonist in this book and the story is told from his point of view. We begin with Virgil recovering from a near drowning after his car crashed through a barrier into l This book for me was definitely a 3.5 rounded up to a 4 for the writing. I longed to read this new book by the author of “Peace Like a River” which I probably hand sold to hundreds of people. Did I love this book, no I did not, but I liked it. Here’s why:As you know from the blurb and extensive reviews Virgil Wander is the main protagonist in this book and the story is told from his point of view. We begin with Virgil recovering from a near drowning after his car crashed through a barrier into lake Superior in icy water. Fortunately there was a local man who routinely looks for interesting items washed ashore who saw the accident, called the police and Virgil was saved. He has a concussion but is slowing getting his words and ambulation back.As he is at his home which is above the Empress theater which he owns a curious man appears, his name is Rune and he is a kite making, kite flying master. He has recently discovered that he had a son who lived in town but that son has been missing after flying his solo airplane across the Lake. He does however have a grandson and daughter in law whom is trying to get to know as well as asking everyone in town about his lost son and what he was like. There are so many characters in this book it can make your head hurt. There is the young attractive widow, Nadine, whom Virgil has loved from afar for ages; another orphaned young man 10 years old, Galen, who is determined to catch a mythical sized sturgeon whom he believes pulled his father into the water where he drowned. There is a towner, Adam Leer, who “made it big” as a filmmaker and has come back to spruce up his ancestral home, he may or may not be a “bad guy” since many bad things happen to people with whom he has disagreements. Jerry is a down and out guy whose marriage is floundering and is out of work. We see some hope for him when Adam gives him a job, but is this a good situation??? Where is this character really headed? The list of characters goes on and on. If that weren’t enough there are also racoons, ravens and sturgeons to account for. The book for me felt like it meandered on and on. I grew frustrated with the slow progress of the story yet I stuck with it because of the beautiful writing.I’m surprised that not many reviewers have mentioned all of the symbolism used by Mr. Enger, as he did in his previous books. Kites are symbols of prophecy and fate, also a wandering spirit. Black Ravens are symbolic of good prophecy. A man walking on water can either symbolize death or in Christian views, Jesus, walking on water, a sign of life. The most obvious use of symbolism was Lake Superior frequently referred to as the “sea” which is highly symbolic and from research I found this: “Usually, 'the sea' is used as a symbol in literature to represent life and its hardships. The sea, with its daunting width and depth, simply stands for life itself. It may be quite calm, but it become raging and even deadly in an instant, with the waves representing the sudden obstacles life throws our way”. That description of the sea is exactly what this book is about, life itself and how people deal with it’s ups and downs. I don’t really think this book is about small towns as I live in Wisconsin and have never encountered a small town or it’s inhabitants like this one. I really would classify this entire book as magical realism if it were my choice.I would recommend this book to someone who is willing to sit and read for long periods of time and has patience, with the story and the characters. I am looking forward to meeting this author in town next month and listening to what he has to say about the writing of this novel and what is all means.I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars“Got nothing against a big townStill hayseed enough to sayLook who's in the big townBut my bed is in a small townOh, and that's good enough for me“Well I was born in a small townAnd I can breathe in a small townGonna die in this small townAnd that's probably where they'll bury me” --Small Town, John Mellencamp, Songwriters: John Mellencamp ”If 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 Run 4.5 Stars“Got nothing against a big townStill hayseed enough to sayLook who's in the big townBut my bed is in a small townOh, and that's good enough for me“Well I was born in a small townAnd I can breathe in a small townGonna die in this small townAnd that's probably where they'll bury me” --Small Town, John Mellencamp, Songwriters: John Mellencamp ”If 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 gloom. It was also the day of my release from St. Luke’s Hospital down in Duluth, so I was concussed and more than a little adrift.” So begins the story of our narrator, Virgil Wander, of this town, and those who have come to this town, and even the stories of a few of those who have left. The fantastical, multiple stories woven together of the residents and the town, itself looming over all as this story slowly comes to light, unveiling a little at a time, even if some of this feels slightly, weirdly, mysterious. Greenstone was once an active mining town on the shores of Lake Superior, but those days are now past. Most things you could say about Greenstone were in the past tense: it was once home to a once-famous pitcher whose fame was as long lasting as his pitch – it disappeared along with him after pitching a no-hitter. Even Virgil, himself, was once a different version of the man he is becoming, a man who seems to have lost all of his adjectives since the accident that left him concussed, but also a more congenial, if not necessarily happier, Virgil. Virgil, city clerk for this town, and owner of the one and only movie theatre, the Empress, a theatre with an unusual collection of films. Add into this mix a cast of characters and a continuous stream of seemingly unreal sequence of events that left me feeling a bit dizzy – if still amused. There’s a very subtle humour in the way this is written, the kind that embraces these people and their quirky, somewhat befuddled ways. ”So it seemed a decent Christmas—maybe even a kind of pinnacle, given the realities of a place like the Empress; and it didn’t escape me that this little group belonged in a movie itself, the fatigued ragtag ensemble unlikely to win the day.”Perhaps even more than embracing these people, what Virgil discovers, ultimately, is how to embrace life.Pub Date: 02 OCT 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Grove Atlantic / Grove Press
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    4+ starsIn case you’re wondering, Virgil Wander is the name of the main character in this book. He deserves this unusual name because he is a quirky man living in an odd town at the centre of a unusual story. From one perspective, Virgil is an unlucky man living amongst many unlucky people. The story opens with Virgil recovering from a spectacular car accident, and other characters die or have unfortunate accidents. But this isn’t really a story of woe, but more about community — how the people 4+ starsIn case you’re wondering, Virgil Wander is the name of the main character in this book. He deserves this unusual name because he is a quirky man living in an odd town at the centre of a unusual story. From one perspective, Virgil is an unlucky man living amongst many unlucky people. The story opens with Virgil recovering from a spectacular car accident, and other characters die or have unfortunate accidents. But this isn’t really a story of woe, but more about community — how the people around Virgil are in each other’s business and how they care for each other. There’s also a fair bit of goodnatured humour to the story. I loved the writing. It’s simple, but every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a stunning moment of insight or beautiful description. I liked the original characters and the strong sense of community. I generally enjoyed the plot — although I felt that it got wobbly in the middle and I’m not sure what I think about one aspect of the end — but I was certainly interested in seeing where Virgil was taking me. In the end, this was a 4 star read with a + in recognition of the strong writing. This was another lovely monthly buddy read and Diane and Angela. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.I just noticed that it’s Read Now on Netgalley.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Well, there are certainly a lot of subplots going on in this story, but I did enjoy it overall, especially due to the characters.Greenstone, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior used to be quite a booming town but is in a season of “hard luck” days. We have the likes of Virgil who has a near death experience at the start of the book and all the other characters and happenings revolve around him... and, I loved him 😊We have a missing Major League Baseball player from the past, a Nordic kite f Well, there are certainly a lot of subplots going on in this story, but I did enjoy it overall, especially due to the characters.Greenstone, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior used to be quite a booming town but is in a season of “hard luck” days. We have the likes of Virgil who has a near death experience at the start of the book and all the other characters and happenings revolve around him... and, I loved him 😊We have a missing Major League Baseball player from the past, a Nordic kite flyer, a pet raccoon, a homicidal sturgeon, a wayward son of the town founder, and a beautiful young woman ( the missing baseball player’s wife) and her son, and even more side lines going on.Sounds like much ado... and there is, but I feel most people will enjoy this book.Thank you to Netgalley and Grove Press for the advanced digital book!
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  • Mackey
    January 1, 1970
    We have waited a decade for more beautiful, heart-wrenching tales from the incredible Leif Enger but the wait was worth it to have the astounding story of Virgil Wander.Virgil Wander is a sad tale about a declining rust-belt town; a town that has seen much better days as has it people. Yet the perspective changes when Virgil’s car plunges off a cliff into the icy waters below. His survival, subsequent “spidery” thoughts due to a concussion and the arrival of a mystical Swede named Rune, will of We have waited a decade for more beautiful, heart-wrenching tales from the incredible Leif Enger but the wait was worth it to have the astounding story of Virgil Wander.Virgil Wander is a sad tale about a declining rust-belt town; a town that has seen much better days as has it people. Yet the perspective changes when Virgil’s car plunges off a cliff into the icy waters below. His survival, subsequent “spidery” thoughts due to a concussion and the arrival of a mystical Swede named Rune, will offer hope and perhaps a small bit of redemption for all they meet.Enger has given us a book of imagery, a parable of sorts, with characters that resonate and amuse the reader. They are quirky Midwesterners who have a way of making even the worst of times appear to be humorous. The book personifies goodness and evil, hope and despair in a way that only a extremely gifted writer can accomplish – and Enger is, indeed, that gifted writer.Rarely have I loved a book as much as I have this one but then rarely does an author create a place as marvelous as Greenstone, MN or with characters who steal your heart the way that Greenstone’s residents have stolen mine. You will laugh with them, cry and hurt and, yes, rejoice with them. This is a book that will stay in your heart and mind for a very long time. My only regret is that I have only FIVE STARS to offer this book – it deserves far greater.Thank you to the author for this enrapturing tale; to the publisher, #GroveAtlantic, and to #Edelweiss for my advanced copy of #VirgilWander.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    After reading the last page of Virgil Wander I feel like I'm saying goodbye to old friends. This book is set in a small town in Minnesota that has seen better days. After a near death experience Virgil Wander wakes up with a new lease on life. There are plenty of eccentric characters and a mystery to keep you turning the pages. Leif Enger is a master storyteller and I have loved all of his books. I highly recommend and I hope I don't have to wait another ten years for his next.Thank you Netgalle After reading the last page of Virgil Wander I feel like I'm saying goodbye to old friends. This book is set in a small town in Minnesota that has seen better days. After a near death experience Virgil Wander wakes up with a new lease on life. There are plenty of eccentric characters and a mystery to keep you turning the pages. Leif Enger is a master storyteller and I have loved all of his books. I highly recommend and I hope I don't have to wait another ten years for his next.Thank you Netgalley Grove Atlantic and Leif Enger for a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Martie Nees Record
    January 1, 1970
    Genre: Literary FictionPublisher: Grove PressPub. Date: Oct. 2, 2018The author, Leif Enger, is the winner of many awards including the 2008 Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award Honor Book for Fiction. He captures the heart of small-town life when the town has seen better days. This may be because he lives on a farm with his wife and two children in the Midwest. The title gets its name from the story’s protagonist and narrator. Virgil owns and runs the town’s only movie theater, The Empress. For tha Genre: Literary FictionPublisher: Grove PressPub. Date: Oct. 2, 2018The author, Leif Enger, is the winner of many awards including the 2008 Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award Honor Book for Fiction. He captures the heart of small-town life when the town has seen better days. This may be because he lives on a farm with his wife and two children in the Midwest. The title gets its name from the story’s protagonist and narrator. Virgil owns and runs the town’s only movie theater, The Empress. For that reason and other similarities, this novel has shades of the 1971 film, “The Last Picture Show.” But there is also much different. The film is a realistic version of a flagging town. This book is like reading about a small-town while smoking a joint. The writing is playful, sometimes too much so and it can get puzzling.The book’s pages are filled with quirky characters. Among others, there is, of course, Virgil, who survives a near-death experience in the book’s opening pages. He awakens in the hospital in a fog-like state, which sets the tone for the rest of the novel. There is also his friend who was a minor league eccentric baseball pitcher. He disappeared years ago, leaving behind his beautiful wife and now depressed teenage son. We also meet an old man kite-flying Norwegian pied-piper, who has come in search of the son he never knew he had until recently. The son is the disappeared pitcher. There is even a pet raccoon, not to mention a killer sturgeon fish who takes the life of a father, leaving yet another fatherless son in the story. The town’s bad luck is every bit as much of a character. Still, expect a fun read. All in all, this is a story that will make you chuckle. You will smile that happiness can be found in hard times. But, the goofiness can begin to feel like overload.I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.Find all my book reviews at:Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...Leave Me Alone I am Reading & Reviewing: https://books6259.wordpress.com/Twitter: Martie's Book Reviews: https://twitter.com/NeesRecord
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    "Greenstone was full of people who could make you sad just by strolling into view." The mining town on Lake Superior's shore seemed to have outlived its shelf life, but there were those who continued living there despite decreasing opportunity and prospect. At least that was Virgil's feeling at the outset. Virgil, having just suffered a near death experience behind the wheel, finds his perspective has changed and his senses heightened, almost as if he's a new person. As the story unfolds and the "Greenstone was full of people who could make you sad just by strolling into view." The mining town on Lake Superior's shore seemed to have outlived its shelf life, but there were those who continued living there despite decreasing opportunity and prospect. At least that was Virgil's feeling at the outset. Virgil, having just suffered a near death experience behind the wheel, finds his perspective has changed and his senses heightened, almost as if he's a new person. As the story unfolds and the plot expands, he is joined by fellow townsmen and recent arrivals that provide a richness that reminded me of the works of Richard Russo, of Ron Rash. From the Norwegian kite artist who weaves spells with his creations, to the scion of the town's founder who may or may not be the embodiment of evil, and even a murderous sturgeon. The lives of the town embodied by these and others zing off the page. I, for one, had no idea that there is viable surfing on the Minnesota shores of Lake Superior -- and thanks to UTube, was able to see these ice covered daredevils whose waves may not rival those of warmer climates, but whose temperatures add a deeper level of commitment to the sport. There is some lovely writing here ("...I didn’t have to apply any adjectives to the toast, only plenty of butter.") But I don't want to quote any more since future readers should discover this book for themselves.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    There's something alluring about this book that called to me as I read. There's not a lot of action here nor is there any edge-of-your seat suspense. Just a quiet tugging to read more about the lovable, quirky characters and this community in Greenstone, MN that has fallen on hard times, but the residents still come together as friends and neighbors who know and care about each other. Virgil Wander has had an accident where his car went off the road and into the lake, but someone saw it happen a There's something alluring about this book that called to me as I read. There's not a lot of action here nor is there any edge-of-your seat suspense. Just a quiet tugging to read more about the lovable, quirky characters and this community in Greenstone, MN that has fallen on hard times, but the residents still come together as friends and neighbors who know and care about each other. Virgil Wander has had an accident where his car went off the road and into the lake, but someone saw it happen and pulled him out. He is recovering, but has lost some of his words - mostly the adjectives and is working to retrieve them. Virgil owns the local movie theater, and lives there as well. Out one day he meets Rune, visiting from the Arctic Circle, who has come to gather information about a son he never knew he had and will never know because he either died or disappeared (this is a mystery). Rune is flying a kite that he has built - his kites were very interesting - and somehow Virgil invites him to come and stay with him at The Empress. I loved the whimsy of Rune and his kites! I enjoyed the book and loved the characters. Thanks to Leif Enger and Grove Atlantic through Netgalley for an advance copy of this novel.
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  • Lesley Kagen
    January 1, 1970
    Leif Enger is one of my favorite writers and I've waited for so long for a new novel that I was almost afraid to start reading it. But I did . . . I did . . . at a savoring pace, because I could not bear for it to end. I was enraptured. His voice. The town. The kites. The imagery. The deep sense of loss and rebirth. Geeze.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    “We all dream of finding but what’s wrong with looking?”Virgil Wander is a book about seekers – those who get lost in the journey we call life and then, if they’re fortunate, get found. Virgil Wander – a middle-aged man who is the proprietor of the Empress Theater – is a microcosm of his small and failing Greenstone, Minnesota town, “cruising at medium altitude, aspiring vaguely to decency…moderate in all things including romantic forays.”And so it might have gone if two things hadn’t happened: “We all dream of finding but what’s wrong with looking?”Virgil Wander is a book about seekers – those who get lost in the journey we call life and then, if they’re fortunate, get found. Virgil Wander – a middle-aged man who is the proprietor of the Empress Theater – is a microcosm of his small and failing Greenstone, Minnesota town, “cruising at medium altitude, aspiring vaguely to decency…moderate in all things including romantic forays.”And so it might have gone if two things hadn’t happened: Virgil’s heartbroken Pontiac breaches a safety barrier, tumbling into Lake Superior with him inside it. AND a kite-flying stranger named Rune shows up in town in search of his mythical baseball hero son who vanished mysteriously in an airplane.As the book opens, Virgil is recovering from a traumatic brain injury with its resultant loss of words (particularly adjectives) and mild hallucinations but he is recovering. As his passion for life begins to reignite, so does that of his disenchanted hometown.Enchantment abounds: Rune and his quixotic quest to understand his lost son and bond with the grandson he never knew he had…a down-and-out 10-year-old named Galen who tries to extract revenge on a near-mythical fish…a scandalous hometown son, Adam Leer, with a trail of rumors preceding him, who may or may not be everything people suspect he is…and a loser named Jerry who may be past redemption. These are just some of the characters who surround Virgil (who, like his Roman namesake, is a chronicler who knew the “tears in things.”)I found the book enchanting, with just the right message for today’s times: that a little bit of magic is never quite out of sight and that all of us (well, maybe most of us) struggle and experience redemption. Those who are fans of Richard Russo and Peter Geye will particularly enjoy this portrait of a town and a man who are poised at the precipice of second chances.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Virgil Wander by Leif Enger is a lovely, quiet story on the surface, featuring quirky small-town folk who carry on in spite of heavy baggage. If you let yourself flow along with the gentle story, you will be caught up in the wind current of change and impending disaster to a satisfying conclusion. Have a little faith in these characters, and they will greatly reward you.Greenstone, MN sits on the great inland sea of Lake Superior. Its glory days are behind it; the Taconic mine that built it loom Virgil Wander by Leif Enger is a lovely, quiet story on the surface, featuring quirky small-town folk who carry on in spite of heavy baggage. If you let yourself flow along with the gentle story, you will be caught up in the wind current of change and impending disaster to a satisfying conclusion. Have a little faith in these characters, and they will greatly reward you.Greenstone, MN sits on the great inland sea of Lake Superior. Its glory days are behind it; the Taconic mine that built it looms over the shoreline, ruining the view with its reminder of what has been lost. The town's once famous ballplayer, whose uncontrollable wild pitch was both his boon and his burden, disappeared in a plane over the lake ten years ago. It seems like hard times haunts the town. Virgil Wander operates the small theater. His car went through a railing into the lake. He should have died, except a beachcomber rescued him. Virgil is given a new lease on life. As recovers his equilibrium, adjectives, and strength he considers his future. Virgil is a good man. He holds an unrequited love for a woman, befriends her son, takes care of people in need. Greenstone is undergoing a sea change. A local man is drowned while fishing for a legendary monster sturgeon. A kite flying Norwegian arrives, looking for information about the son he never knew he had. The town founder's son returns, his sheen of charm and panache a thin veil over a flinty heart. The town struggles to find a way to celebrate itself at its annual festival, finally embracing its heritage in Hard Luck Days.I enjoyed reading this novel at a leisurely pace...until I could not put it down and gulped the last of it down in one sitting, staying up late into the night. The name of Virgil's town, Greenstone intrigued me.Greenstone is the state gem of Michigan, found along Lake Superior. It is a mineral found in basalt, a volcanic rock. The Ely greenstone found in Minnesota is basalt that has been metamorphized; that is, volcanic rock which under pressure has been changed into a new form. Read more here.Virgil's town of Greenstone is troubled by great disasters, economic and personal, and has been crushed and pummeled. But it survives and is reborn in a new form. This hopeful novel reminds us that suffering and loss is not the end of the story. We can, and do, survive the sea-change of near-death. And are reborn to a different life that may be as good or better than what we had known.I received a free ARC from Bookish in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • marilyn
    January 1, 1970
    This story is narrated by the character of middle aged, movie theater owner, Virgil Wander. When the story begins, Virgil has just miraculously survived his car sailing off the road into frigid Lake Superior and only lived because the local junk dealer saw the event and was able to pull Virgil out of the sinking car. Virgil now has a traumatic brain injury, with loss of memory, muddled speech and thinking, and no assurance he'll get back his past or his former self. In fact, Virgil calls his cur This story is narrated by the character of middle aged, movie theater owner, Virgil Wander. When the story begins, Virgil has just miraculously survived his car sailing off the road into frigid Lake Superior and only lived because the local junk dealer saw the event and was able to pull Virgil out of the sinking car. Virgil now has a traumatic brain injury, with loss of memory, muddled speech and thinking, and no assurance he'll get back his past or his former self. In fact, Virgil calls his current self, tenant 2 and his before-accident self tenant 1 because that's how foreign this world and his body feel to him since his accident. Everything we learn is through Virgil or through stories told to him by others and then related to us. This Virgil is kindhearted, quick to tears (as he is sure was not the case with tenant 1), generous, and haunted by visions from right before the wreck and of a man he thinks of as death. His town of Greenstone has been dying for a very long time and tragedy and bad luck abound. Yet the people of the town just keep on going and even have named their current yearly celebration Hard Luck Days. Most of the people in this tiny town look after each other and Virgil, as he looks after them, despite his current "new tenant" status. Into town comes Rune, the father of the town's former single A baseball player, who went missing after taking a solo flight. Rune, and his kite making and flying, bring the town together more than ever, adding a bright spot to each day. But there is evil and darkness lurking and it's more evident whenever a long time town member comes back into town. As the book comes to a close, with the town and it's folks mostly looking at a brighter future, I do wish we could know more about Alec Leer, whose presence seems otherworldly and ominous. We only know what the new Virgil knows and what he tells us but I feel there is more than one story lurking behind this book. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people of Greenstone and being a part of Virgil's recovery from his accident and acceptance that things are different now, as he and the town's folk make their way into the future. Thank you to Leif Enger, Grove Atlantic, and NetGalley for this ARC.
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  • DeAnn
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars on this wonderfully lyrical tale filled with memorable charactersI enjoyed the Midwestern setting and the town felt a bit like my own small town growing up. I read Leif Enger's first book "Peace Like a River" as part of a One Book initiative years ago, so when Is saw that he had a new book out, I was excited to read it.I liked the flawed character of Virgil Wander, he is a town clerk and also owns the movie theater in town, the Empress. His character has a spectacular car crash into Lake 5 stars on this wonderfully lyrical tale filled with memorable charactersI enjoyed the Midwestern setting and the town felt a bit like my own small town growing up. I read Leif Enger's first book "Peace Like a River" as part of a One Book initiative years ago, so when Is saw that he had a new book out, I was excited to read it.I liked the flawed character of Virgil Wander, he is a town clerk and also owns the movie theater in town, the Empress. His character has a spectacular car crash into Lake Superior as the book opens and that seems to change his outlook on life. We are introduced to the wonderfully quirky character, Rune, who is in town searching for clues about his son and is a kite maker. These kites sound spectacular and seem to run the show with the town people who fly them. There is a romance that develops and many relationships that are so realistic the characters seem to step out of the book. I want to go watch a matinee at the Empress with them.I recommend this book to people who enjoy strong character driven stories.Thank you to NetGalley for my advanced copy. This one releases next week, October 2.Now I really want to fly my kite over Lake Superior!
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  • Nann
    January 1, 1970
    Can I give this ten stars? It's only June 30 but I declare that this is the best book I have read, and will read, in 2018. (I heard Leif Enger speak at two author events at the ALA Annual Conference.) Virgil Wander is the proprietor of the Empress, a movie theater in Greenstone on the Lake Superior short north of Duluth. The town's prosperous mining days are long gone. Virgil had a bad auto accident some months before the story takes place and his recovery combines with the arrival of a kite-fly Can I give this ten stars? It's only June 30 but I declare that this is the best book I have read, and will read, in 2018. (I heard Leif Enger speak at two author events at the ALA Annual Conference.) Virgil Wander is the proprietor of the Empress, a movie theater in Greenstone on the Lake Superior short north of Duluth. The town's prosperous mining days are long gone. Virgil had a bad auto accident some months before the story takes place and his recovery combines with the arrival of a kite-flying Norwegian looking for his grandson, the homecoming of the town's minor celebrity, and the everyday lives of a cast of winningly quirky people. I thought of Jon Hassler (without Catholicism), Anne Tyler (without dysfunctional relatives), and Garrison Keillor (without the pervasive self-awareness). Enger has marvelous turns of phrase. There are laugh-out-loud scenes, enough tension to keep the reader alert, and a satisfying, redemptive end. Bravo!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 40%A case of me being the wrong reader for the book, as everyone else seems to love this. While the characters were likeable, the story was overly descriptive and incredibly slow.Thank you Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    Warm, lovely, kind…words I might use to describe my fiancée, but certainly not a reading choice. Normally I tend to go for something considerably darker, to match my worldview. So I was somewhat reluctant to read this slice of small town Americana with a distinct Midwestern flavor. And yet the gamble paid off. When done right, kind and lovely apparently can do well on the page, and this book is positively suffused with warmth, incongruous as it is with its Minnesota setting. Virgil Wander is a m Warm, lovely, kind…words I might use to describe my fiancée, but certainly not a reading choice. Normally I tend to go for something considerably darker, to match my worldview. So I was somewhat reluctant to read this slice of small town Americana with a distinct Midwestern flavor. And yet the gamble paid off. When done right, kind and lovely apparently can do well on the page, and this book is positively suffused with warmth, incongruous as it is with its Minnesota setting. Virgil Wander is a man who, despite his name, stays in one place and shies away from excitement. His grand adventures are played out on silver screen, one belonging to the movie theatre he owns, operates and lives above. It’s a quiet life in a quiet town classic, until Virgil drives off the road and nearly dies. Rescued, he survives and befriends a stranger in town, a Norwegian man by the name of Rune who’s come to trace the life of a son he never knew he had, Greenstone’s beloved son, high flying baseball playing neon sign creator who has disappeared ten years ago prompting much speculation. Rune is one of those magical characters that brings everyone together, the man positively twinkles, he bakes bread and he infuses the place with magic by flying kites. Awesome, awesome kites. And on the opposite end of the magic spectrum there’s another visitor to the town, the long gone Leer, a man of money, panache and apparently evil nature. And so it is the two magnetic opposites that oscillate and orient the town, each with their own gravitational forces. But, of course, the good wins out in the end, it’s just that kind of a story, a praise of genuine goodness of character embodying all the traditional Midwestern qualities of steadiness, good manners and taking care of your neighbors. Presumably…I don’t know, I’ve never been to Midwest or lived in a small town, but this is exactly the sort of place that city dwellers tired of it all suppose/dream/assume is on the other side of the fence. Greener grass, slower pace, quiet grace of quotidian pleasures. That’s the place the author created. Took his time too, first book in a decade, but it’s so good. It positively oozes charm. Uncharacteristic of a choice as it was for me. It’s like a literary equivalent of a warm blanket on a winter evening. It makes you slightly happier for having read it…kind of like seeing a creatively made kite flying in the sky. It read somewhat slow for the page count, but it was well worth it. Enger’s a natural storyteller, his command of language is terrific and he turns out subtly lovely sentences, humorous at times and occasionally a thing of pure beauty. So yeah, warm, lovely and kind…in a book and it’s a pleasure to read. Go figure. The real world is going to be difficult after this one. But this was a great find. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Grove Atlantic/Grove Press through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.The story opens with Virgil Wander accidentally driving off a cliff in his car and landing in Lake Superior. He is saved by a friend who happens to be in the right place at the right time. Slowly, Virgil regains parts of his memory and vocabulary (he lost the use of adjectives), but his sarcasm and wry sense of humor remain intact. As the accident recedes I received a copy of this book from Grove Atlantic/Grove Press through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.The story opens with Virgil Wander accidentally driving off a cliff in his car and landing in Lake Superior. He is saved by a friend who happens to be in the right place at the right time. Slowly, Virgil regains parts of his memory and vocabulary (he lost the use of adjectives), but his sarcasm and wry sense of humor remain intact. As the accident recedes further into the past, we learn more about the town that Virgil inhabits and the residents within it. I initially was interested in reading this book because of the beautiful cover and then was sold with the summary that included whimsical characters and humor. Unfortunately, I found myself bored and reading other things instead. This is a very slow burn of a read and if that’s you’re thing then this is for you. The writing is strong and I found myself laughing every once in a while because I really enjoyed Virgil’s wit, but I just wasn’t engaging the way I wanted to. As you can see from the many, many favorable reviews I am in the minority opinion. I did appreciate the opportunity to read it and am sorry to not have enjoyed it more.
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  • Jenni Simmons
    January 1, 1970
    A review coming soon . . . But gosh, I loved it.
  • Lisa Wright
    January 1, 1970
    An old Norwegian arrives in a hard-luck town on the shores of Lake Superior. Greenstone has survived mostly on inertia. Virgil Wander, the owner of the decaying movie theater, and our guide, is drawn to the quiet old man and the magnificent kites he sends aloft. Enger, writes with quiet brilliance about the people of the upper midwest, of movies old and new, of flying anvils and giant evil sturgeon, and the absurdities of everyday life that can kill a town or resurrect it from the dead. This was An old Norwegian arrives in a hard-luck town on the shores of Lake Superior. Greenstone has survived mostly on inertia. Virgil Wander, the owner of the decaying movie theater, and our guide, is drawn to the quiet old man and the magnificent kites he sends aloft. Enger, writes with quiet brilliance about the people of the upper midwest, of movies old and new, of flying anvils and giant evil sturgeon, and the absurdities of everyday life that can kill a town or resurrect it from the dead. This was well worth waiting ten years for.
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  • Carol (Reading Ladies)
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to #NetGalley #atlanticmonthlypress for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.4.5 Stars.Kite flying ... nostalgic film references ... film reels .... small town independent theaters .... Lake Superior .... a midwest town down on its luck .... quirky characters .... splashes of humor ... and a touch of magical realism make Virgil Wander a remarkable and memorable story.Leif Enger's devoted fans have long anticipated his new release, Virgil Wander, as Thanks to #NetGalley #atlanticmonthlypress for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.4.5 Stars.Kite flying ... nostalgic film references ... film reels .... small town independent theaters .... Lake Superior .... a midwest town down on its luck .... quirky characters .... splashes of humor ... and a touch of magical realism make Virgil Wander a remarkable and memorable story.Leif Enger's devoted fans have long anticipated his new release, Virgil Wander, as it's been several years since Enger's well-known 2002 title, Peace Like a River. Enger is an exquisite writer, and he fills this well written, quiet, character driven story with an eclectic mix of quirky characters and an astounding assortment of vocabulary (a great deal of which I had to look up!). Since I'm a fast reader, I had to slow my pace in order to savor the writing and ponder the phrases. Virgil Wander is not a book to power through. Because every sentence is packed with meaning, I found that it worked best for me to read it in chunks and then set it aside for an hour or an evening and pick it up fresh.Enger creates an amazing sense of place as readers are introduced to a small, upper midwestern town on the shores of Lake Superior, north of Duluth, Minnesota as well as its various, colorful characters. The town, Greenstone, and the main character, Virgil Wander, are both struggling. Greenstone is on the decline and has experienced so much tough luck that it eventually creates a festival called "Hard Luck Days." The story opens one snowy afternoon with Virgil's rescue after he drives accidentally (?) off a cliff and submerges his car into Lake Superior. Virgil, surviving with a mild brain injury, returns to his former life feeling like a tenant and lives above the decrepit Empress theater which he owns and manages. Virgil's life begins to change when Rune, a friendly Norwegian man, comes to town with his creative and extravagant kites. He had "a hundred merry crinkles at his eyes and a long-haul sadness in his shoulders." Rune seeks to reconcile his grief over a son he never knew who has mysteriously disappeared while Virgil attempts to regain his memory, his equilibrium, and his vocabulary, and suffers silently with romantic feelings towards Rune's son's beautiful widow, Nadine. Rune and Virgil become friends and affect some positive changes in the town and help many of the town folk. Virgil finds joy in flying Rune's kites: "As a kid I'd enjoyed kites, but only in the usual way of kids, losing interest once they were airborne and manageable. Now I thought of flying daily, hourly. I didn't hold the string so much as comb it, and once flying I felt small and unencumbered, as if the moving sky were home and I'd been misplaced down here. Maybe I wanted the broad reach, as Lou Chandler had said. That great wide open."Many sentimental moments involve Rune and Virgil rewatching old classic movies at the Empress theater, also providing an accepting and comforting gathering place for an assortment of their friends. There are too many sub plots to address in a review, but many of the story lines involve the reinvention of the town and Virgil.A masterful writer, Enger includes themes such as loss, rebuilding a life (and a town), taking a risk ("[The kite] broke the line and caught the next gust out of town. A perilous beautiful move, choosing to throw yourself at the future, even if it means one day coming down in the sea."), friendship, finding yourself ("For a man named Wander I'd spent a long time in one place."), family, love, community, and drawing a wider circle ("Your tribe is always bigger than you think."). Greenstone, the town's name, is symbolic and thematic, too: (Wikipedia) "Greenstone is the state gem of Michigan, found along Lake Superior. It is a mineral found in basalt, a volcanic rock. The Ely greenstone found in MN is basalt that has been metamorphosed; that is, volcanic rock which under pressure has been changed into a new form."Recommended for fans of literary fiction and for fans of sentences like these: "This he stated in a flattened voice like a wall build hastily to conceal ruins." or "He had the heartening build of the aging athlete defeated by pastry."Recommended for readers who love character driven stories, important themes, and the thoughtful descriptions of ordinary people and their circumstances, for all who are searching for thoughtful content, for vocabulary enthusiasts, and, of course, for devoted fans of Peace Like a River.Pub date: October 2, 2018 For more reviews visit my blog readingladies.com
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  • Mary Lins
    January 1, 1970
    Where do I begin to rhapsodize about Leif Enger's new novel, "Virgil Wander"? Do I tell you how smoothly elegant the prose is? How it seems to envelop you like a hug and gently lift you through the pages? Or is it the characters? The eponymous Virgil who lights our way as we Wander around Greenstone, Minnesota, on the banks of Lake Superior. [See what he did there with names?] And may I gush over the various denizens of Greenstone with whom I fell in love? The wit? Oh, the wit is so wonderfully Where do I begin to rhapsodize about Leif Enger's new novel, "Virgil Wander"? Do I tell you how smoothly elegant the prose is? How it seems to envelop you like a hug and gently lift you through the pages? Or is it the characters? The eponymous Virgil who lights our way as we Wander around Greenstone, Minnesota, on the banks of Lake Superior. [See what he did there with names?] And may I gush over the various denizens of Greenstone with whom I fell in love? The wit? Oh, the wit is so wonderfully Midwestern; self-effacing, yet pointed, yet kind. Or does it come down to plot? The story of a man in the middle of his life, and a town down on its luck, facing the prospect of change. A story that pulled me in from the first page and didn't let me go even after I'd finished the book. In fact, I’m going to have a hard time reading anything else until these people fade from my mind. (Could take a while!)Virgil was once described as "a sun-deprived projectionist with a degree of forbearance approaching personal defeat." But then Virgil cheats death in Lake Superior and upon returning to his apartment and his life as the owner of the Empress Theater, he finds himself uncomfortable in his "before" life. He meets a stranger named Rune [See what he does with names?] and things begin to shift. (There is also an arrogant character, and possible villain, named Leer.)Virgil talks to the reader as if you're in a room together having coffee or a beer. It's wonderfully “entre nous”, and fosters a kind of "we're in this together" feeling. The small-town northern setting, the humor, and the wonderful characters reminded me very very much of Richard Russo, and that is High Praise from me! This novel will certainly be on my Top Ten list for 2018! All the stars!Now I'm off to gather Enger's earlier novels! I can't wait to read more!
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  • KC
    January 1, 1970
    After surviving a near fatal car crash, movie house owner Virgil Wander begins to re-examine his work, his friendships, and life. A true character driven novel depicting the perfect snapshot of a small midwestern town while capturing the likes of a Norman Rockwell painting. A simple story about a little Minnesota community with a big heart. For those who enjoy reading Fredrik Backman.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Virgil Wander survives a near death experience. Awakening, he 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.Reading is slower paced, so be sure you take the time to savor the book. Another reviewer compared the pacing as a 'quiet tugging to read more' and that seems a very appropriate comparison. 3.25 ☆
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  • J.D. Dehart
    January 1, 1970
    Virgil Wander is a fascinating literary journey from Leif Enger, an author I haven't seen in a while. His book, Peace Like a River, occupies a special place in my mind from a few years ago. This book again shows Enger's sensibility for character and storyline.In Virgil Wander, we encounter what amounts to a portrait of a man, first and foremost, as well as a town. The book is populated with the kind of whimsical and unique personalities that one finds in the work of authors like Fannie Flagg and Virgil Wander is a fascinating literary journey from Leif Enger, an author I haven't seen in a while. His book, Peace Like a River, occupies a special place in my mind from a few years ago. This book again shows Enger's sensibility for character and storyline.In Virgil Wander, we encounter what amounts to a portrait of a man, first and foremost, as well as a town. The book is populated with the kind of whimsical and unique personalities that one finds in the work of authors like Fannie Flagg and even Flannery O'Connor, just from another regional perspective.After reading Virgil Wander, my hope is that Leif Enger doesn't stay away quite as long before writing the next one. Highly recommended.
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