What a gift it was, on the eve before my 38th birthday, to finish this novel–to turn out the lights with Lief Enger’s art in my soul. I’ve had this book on my reading list for years and I can’t remember from whom the recommendation came. The language from the beginning is masterful; it offers the sort of read where I don’t want to miss a word. The characters are round and rich. Fascinating for me are the countless references Rueben makes to his inadequate storytelling abilities compared to Swede’s, when he, in fact, is weaving the masterpiece of words. The plot is filled with tragedy and yet laced with efficient grace and joy. The way he writes of God and miracles is touching yet unsentimental. The final passage illustrates this wonderfully:
Is there a single person on whom I can press belief?
All I can do is say, Here’s how it went. Here’s what I saw.
I’ve been there and am going back.
Make of it what you will.
Here I pass on the recommendation that was years ago given to me by my mystery friend or acquaintance; whoever you are, thank you.