Monthly Archives: December 2008

Book Review — So Brave, Young, and Handsome

So Brave, Young, and Handsome


Leif Enger

272 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (April 22 2008)
ISBN-10: 0871139855
ISBN-13: 978-0871139856

Monte Becket, a struggling novelist, meets Glendon Hale, an old reprobate with a single regret: that of having abandoned his young wife over thirty years ago. When Hale decides to go in search of his lady, Monte decides to leave his own wife and his son and tag along. Soon Monte realizes that Hale is a wanted man and that his hunter is relentless and ruthless. Monte becomes both victim and actor in these two men’s destinies.

So Brave, Young, and Handsome starts slowly, in an almost off-the-cuff prose that deceives the reader into thinking that it will be an innocuous story. But suddenly, bits of beautiful prose burst out, vivid images float off the page and push the reader to continue. Utterly charming, these little gems keep stepping out to delight. It is an astonishing surprising book because the tone is so humble one may think it’s a simple book, but the emotions, the introspection, are not.

Then halfway through the story, Enger catapults the reader into violence, one that is so easy it dazes the senses and makes the reader doubt humanity’s potential for goodness. Monte, as a fundamentally good but passive character, serves to highlight cruelty’s senselessness but also how regret can twist and change a life.

Against all this life drama is the harsh and difficult landscape of the Far West in the 1920’s, rich and colorful, and still wild. Enger has delivered a masterful story that will stay with the reader for many months.

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Currently Reading…


by Michael Oondatje

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1 edition (April 17 2007)
ISBN-10: 0771068727
ISBN-13: 978-0771068720

This book is not for the faint of hearts, nor for those who like a straightforward story that has a clear beginning and ending. Divisadero, which is the street on which one of the characters lives, although we never see her there, also means “divider” and is one of the most apt titles I’ve encountered. It deals with divided lives, divided psyches, divided cultures. In its structure, the book is also divided into two apparently unrelated parts. One story is suspended while another begins, in appearance unrelated except for the sense of loss and the yearning for love and family.

What is most engaging about Oondatje’s novel is the sheer beauty of his words, more poetry than prose in their lyrical quality. The reader is transported into this half world where words take main stage to the story itself. Every word, expression, phrase is multi layered and rich and worth savouring.

The story, however, can be confusing and puzzling because of its lack of structure. As one section of the book ends, the story is left in mid-air and while the other starts, one hopes there will be some kind of tie-in, some kind of resolution to these people’s problems. But there isn’t, just as in life there often is not. People remain strangers, ostracized or in self-exile. In the end, Michael Oondatje offers two slices of life that makes the reader an observer rather than a participant. But while we sit there and watch, we are surrounded by the beauty of his words.

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‘Tis the season…

4ca3A word from my publisher:

TIS THE SEASON! And with books being one of the greatest gift ideas anywhere, anytime, there’s plenty of reason to be jolly.

Books, compared to other forms of entertainment, are relatively inexpensive. They last a long time, and you can enjoy them more than once. You can trade them for other books, or share them with friends. Most important, they take you to places you might never have been before, where you’ll meet fascinating people and enjoy fabulous adventures on this world and others far more economically than a Prius.

We’re delighted you’ve stopped by Novel Ideas from Zumaya. We’re celebrating, despite the state of the economy, and you’re invited to join us. For the next three weeks, beginning Friday, November 21, our best-selling books will be on sale for 30% off, and shipping is absolutely free in the US. Want to ship overseas? Drop us a line at our customer service address and we’ll see what we can arrange.

Don’t see anything appealing? Stop back next week and see what new titles are listed.

We Zumayans believe we have some of the finest reading material available anywhere. We hope you’ll agree–and come back again if you don’t see anything that appeals this visit.

My own Synergy is up there for now so go right now and buy it for someone you love, or for yourself. And if you don’t fancy an SF Thriller there are plenty of good books to be had at 30% off.

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