Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So Brave, Young, and Handsome - Leif Enger

A couple years ago, I read and loved Leif Enger's first novel, Peace Like a River. I thought it would be a great book for a teenage boy filled with advenutre and family, but also quite touching. I was eager to read Enger's latest novel set in 1915, but sadly, I was sorely disappointed. So Brave, Young, and Handsome, features Monte Beckett, a struggling writer. He passes each day in his Minnesota farmhouse trying to write 1,000 words, but finding he is inspired less and less as the days go by. When he spies an outlaw, Glendon Hale, rowing on the river near his house, he is taken under Hale's spell and compelled to leave his family and travel to Mexico. From there, the book becomes an adventurous Western, filled with outlaws and villains. I am actually a huge fan of Western movies, but have found that I just cannot stomach the stories in writing. They seem boring to me, even when the writing is beautiful - which Enger's often is. I was kind of reminded of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. Despite the travels and adventures, I was not getting much more out of the book. I think I needed more personal reflection from the characters. I barely had any interest in finishing this book, and if it hadn't been for my great love of Peace Like a River, I doubt I would have slogged all the way through.

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