Cover image for Virgil wander [large print] : [a novel] / Leif Enger.
Title:
Virgil wander [large print] : [a novel] / Leif Enger.
Author:
ISBN:
9781432858094
Edition:
Large print edition.
Publication Information:
Farmington Hills, Michigan : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
513 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
General Note:
Subtitle from cover.
Abstract:
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.
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Summary

Summary

New York Times Bestselling AuthorThe 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


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent: Molly Friedrich, the Friedrich Agency. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

WHAT A WONDROUS MIRACLE, to Wake Up, memory muddled, slightly unmoored, with just the task of relearning yourself, your friends, your hometown nestled along the ruggedly beautiful shores of Lake Superior. Everything that once was rundown and rusted suddenly seems new and exotic, buffed to a striking shine. Such is the plight of Virgil Wander, who gives Leif Enger's new novel its name and is one of the most engaging protagonists I've encountered in years. Wander is an orphan, a fallen seminarian, a movie-theater owner. After his car plunges off a cliff into the icy waters of the lake below, his memory and capacity for language are compromised. The world of fiction has always rewarded the obsession, the fetish, and "Virgil Wander" is jam-packed with such eccentricities - baseball, surfing, beachcombing, fishing, classic films, taxidermy, Jeep Wagoneers. Reading the novel is like walking into your beloved uncle's bachelor pad: Every page is packed with curios and brimming with delightful nostalgia. But the nostalgia is well modulated. As Virgil's memory begins to resolve, so does the glimmer of his small town begin to fade. Greenstone, Minn., is a Rust Belt port, a little pockmark along Highway 61 up to Canada. Is it beautiful? Sure, but mostly because of the lake and seasons. Its monolithic ore dock is an everyday reminder of the town's decay, as are the vacancies along Main Street and Virgil's own derelict movie theater. Against this richly drawn background, Enger weaves in a few different strands, including some that explore notions of fatherlessness and orphanhood. Every narrative thread is infused with the magical. Greenstone is a place where phantoms lurk out on the big lake, where old men fly kites into the fangs of lightning and where there's always an outside chance Bob Dylan might stroll onto the Main Street stage. Enger has endowed Minnesota's North Shore with a luminousness reminiscent of Annie Proulx's Newfoundland. It is a strange time to live in small-town America. For those of us far from America's big cities, there is a sense that we're somehow culpable for Trump, that we don't get it, that we're behind the times. There is a mystery to why we persist, why we stay when everyone else leaves. Enger, I think, feels that the hangers-on believe. They're fighters and romantics; they're outdoorspeople. Many of them are simply determined to avoid lights and noise and crowds. Enger's first novel in 10 years marks him as a foremost stylist. His prose is rhapsodic, kaleidoscopic and - I'll say it - enviable. Even more enviable is the rare feat of writing a comedic literary novel that is also a page-turner. He's performing on a trapeze that not many others have even reached for. That said, some of Enger's stylistic choices come with consequences. I've lived in the Midwest my whole life and never once, for example, heard a 16-yearold gas-station attendant utter the word "ghastly." Moments like this pull the reader out of an otherwise spellbinding story. Enger deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Richard Russo and Thomas McGuane. "Virgil Wander" is a lush crowd-pleaser about meaning and second chances and magic. And in these Trumpian times, isn't that just the kind of book and protagonist we're all searching for? NICKOLAS BUTLER'S next novel, "Little Faith," will be published in March. Greenstone is a place where phantoms lurk out on the big lake.


Library Journal Review

In his long-awaited new novel, Enger (Peace Like a River) takes us on one man's moving journey of renewal after his car skids on an icy road and lands in Lake Superior. Virgil Wander escapes with short-term memory loss, followed by visions of a dark figure no one else can see. For 25 years an unassuming resident of Greenstone, MN, a once vibrant town now in decline, Virgil works part-time as a city clerk and is the proud owner of the Empress Theater, which shows classic movies. Strangely, he feels the preaccident Virgil, self-effacing and apologetic, died in the accident; the vigorous new Virgil won't be pushed around. After almost burning down his kitchen, he takes on a curious roommate, Rune Eliassen, who arrives on a mission to find his missing son, Alec, a semifamous baseball player who took off from Greenstone in a small plane and never returned. VERDICT With an unexpected dry wit, Enger pens a loosely woven plot about plucky Greenstone residents working to rejuvenate their town but finding a bonus in their own renewed enthusiasm for life. Surprises and delights throughout; definitely worth waiting for. [See Prepub Alert, 4/19/18.]-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.