Tag Archives: western

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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Another NaNoWriMo Triumph!

This just in from M. D.: she’s completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for another year! I’m very proud of her. She tells me that her work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Noth’Nor, can be loosely called a space western, simply because the story happens on a ranch on another planet. After some doubts about whether she would continue playing with it after November, she told me that she probably will for the simple reason that she hates leaving stuff lying around, half alive…

However, when she started telling me about the story, I decided I had my doubts about whether this is an appropriate branching of her writing.

Well, first of all, it’s not really a space western. Sure, it happens on a ranch, but you’re talking sabotage and attempted murder rather than an oater, and there’s a sprinkling of romance thrown it (oh, pulease …). Not really her style, she says, and I agree. I think she should stick to my case files, at least that stuff really happened, hard as is it to believe. Bad enough she got wrapped up in those cloning stories. That first one, Synergy, maybe could happen; it’s a hundred years in the future. But that other one, the one coming out next year? Clone farms. Huh.

M. D. looks pretty determined to try to finish Noth’Nor, so I’ve decided to keep my trap shut for a while. It’s bad enough Christmas is coming. I don’t want to fight about writing genres on top of it. Too depressing. I’ll just shake her hand and say well done on that NaNo thing and jump her after the new year.

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