So brave, young, and handsome

Leif Enger

Book - 2008

The story of an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.

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FICTION/Enger, Leif
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Subjects
Published
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press : Distributed by Publisher's Group West c2008.
Language
English
Physical Description
287 p.
ISBN
9780871139856
0871139855
Main Author
Leif Enger (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Enger's first novel, Peace like a River (2001), sold more than a million copies, a dizzying amount for fiction. His second effort, unsurprisingly, is a meditation on success. It follows the misadventures of a best-selling author, Monte Becket, who cannot make his second novel work. By setting the story in 1915, Enger offers distance between his experience and Becket's. The strength in Becket's voice comes from a wonderful union of modesty and curiosity. Becket never lingers long on any subject—most chapters are only a few pages long—and the story moves quickly across an American West that offers cowboys, senoritas, and bandits who are regrettably familiar. Less familiar is Enger's authorial generosity; his willingness to show the good in his creations is not endearing so much as encouraging. Indeed, this alone is enough to spare Enger from the conclusion one of his characters reaches: "Why, poor Becket—you got no medicine, that's what it is. You used it all up in only the one book. You got no medicine left at all!" Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1915, unassuming Monte Becket befriends an outlaw intent on reconciling with his family. With a 25-city tour and reading group guide. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Enger's (Peace Like a River ) sophomore effort is at once engaging and curiously flat, somewhat like its Midwestern setting. In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Beckett, a writer trying to follow up a runaway best seller (like Enger himself), leaves his incomplete novels, his wife, and his son to go on a quest. Glendon Hale, a boat builder with a checkered past, takes Monte with him on his journey to apologize to the wife he abandoned 20 years previously. Their trip takes many unexpected detours while they try to avoid the ex-detective who has pursued Glendon for several decades. What awaits them at the end of their journey surprises both men. This is a particularly American tale, with many elements from both penny Westerns and Mark Twain; the plot is improbable, but the writing is absorbing. Libraries where Enger's first novel was popular will want this book as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/08.]—Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD [Page 73]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

An inviting voice guides readers through this expansive saga of redemption in the early 20th-century West and gives a teeming vitality to a period often represented with stock phrases and stock characters. Novelist Monte Becket isn't a terribly distinguished figure; his first and only published work hit five years before the story's start and he is about to reclaim his job at a smalltown Minnesota post office when he meets Glendon Hale, a former outlaw who is traveling to Mexico to find his estranged wife. He persuades Becket to join him, and the two set off on a long journey peopled with sharply carved characters (among them a Pinkerton thug tracking down Glendon) and splendid surprises. As Monte's narration continues, the tale veers away from Monte's artistic struggle and becomes an adventure story. The progress has its listless moments, but Enger crafts scenes so rich you can smell the spilled whiskey and feel the grit. (May) [Page 38]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket, a novelist, joins Glendon Hale, an outlaw intent on reconciling with his family, whom he had abandoned more than two decades earlier, but on their journey Becket leaves his own family behind and Glendon Hale is pursued byCharles Siringo, a relentless former Pinkerton agent.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The story of an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket, a novelist who has lost his sense of purpose, joins Glendon Hale, an outlaw intent on reconciling with his family, which he had abandoned more than two decades earlier, on his journey to California, but he is forced to leave his own family and is pursued by Charles Siringo, a relentless former Pinkerton agent. By the author of Peace Like a River.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket - "a man fading, a disappointer of persons" - has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives a simple life with his loving wife and whipsmart son. But when he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself.Glendon has spent years in obscurity, but the guilt he harbors for abandoning his wife, Blue, over two decades ago, has finally lured him from hiding. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon aims to travel back into his past - heading to California to seek Blue's forgiveness. Beguiled and inspired, Monte soon finds himself leaving behind his own family to embark for the unruly West with his fugitive guide - a journey that will test the depth of his loyalties, the inviolability of his morals, and the strength of his resolve. As they flee from the relentless Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton who's been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls ever further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.With its smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, So Brave, Young, and Handsome often recalls the Old West's greatest cowboy stories. But it is also about an ordinary man's determination as he risks everything in order to understand what it's all "Worth, and follows an unlikely dream in the hope it will lead him back home.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A stunning successor to his best selling novel Peace Like a River, Leif Enger’s new work is a rugged and nimble story about an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.In 1915 Minnesota, novelist Monte Becket has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives simply with his wife and son. But when he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself. Glendon has spent years in obscurity, but the guilt he harbors for abandoning his wife, Blue, over two decades ago, has lured him from hiding. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon aims to travel back to his past--heading to California to seek Blue’s forgiveness. Beguiled and inspired, Monte soon finds himself leaving behind his own family to embark for the unruly West with his fugitive guide. As they desperately flee from the relentless Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton who’s been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls ever further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

A stunning successor to his best selling novel Peace Like a River, Leif Enger’s new work is a rugged and nimble story about an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.In 1915 Minnesota, novelist Monte Becket has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives simply with his wife and son. But when he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself. Glendon has spent years in obscurity, but the guilt he harbors for abandoning his wife, Blue, over two decades ago, has lured him from hiding. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon aims to travel back to his past--heading to California to seek Blue’s forgiveness. Beguiled and inspired, Monte soon finds himself leaving behind his own family to embark for the unruly West with his fugitive guide. As they desperately flee from the relentless Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton who’s been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls ever further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.