Sunday, February 21, 2010

two of my favorite books

I would like to introduce you to Leif Enger. Maybe you've heard of him, but I'm guessing you probably have not. Therefore I'm going to spend the rest of this blog post trying to convince you to read his two books: Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

There are very few contemporary writers who capture the full essence of being human without becoming overly fixated on employing wordy prose in the descriptions of their characters. So many writers, you can tell, are trying so hard to find their voice that it just becomes awkward to make it past a few chapters. So they usually resort to one of the many ready-made formulas for whatever genre they wish to be successful in.

For instance, look at all the magic themed books that came out after the popularity of the Harry Potter series. Or take a peek at the burgeoning vampire fiction at your local bookstore. These are just the big-name trends, but each sub-genre has its own little formula for what it means to be popularly successful in the publishing industry. (sidenote: for the Christian version, just walk through the "Christian living" section of your bookstore and read the different titles. it's amazing how many popular titles have personal pronouns or some sort of need-based marketing gimmick.)

But then there are the few writers who push away from the crowds and go out on their own in search of their creative voice. These are the writers who are few and far between, and sadly, they usually don't receive much attention. Sure, there are the occasional Khaled Hosseini's (The Kite Runner) who write incredible books and are enormously popular, but there just aren't many.

Leif Enger is one such writer who has largely escaped attention. His two novels were well-received and are easy to find in bookstores, but you don't find many people talking about them. They have that elusive quality to them. They charm readers, but people seem to quickly forget.

For the past three years I have hardly read any better fiction. From the classics to popular modern titles, I just can't find another novelist who writes with the ease and gravity of Leif Enger. He writes in a style that makes you forget the time. But the best description for these two books is beautiful. Instead of taking you to a different world, his writing inspires you to see the world in a completely different fashion. He is a writer who has noticed the beauty around him, and his novels, in all their story-telling goodness, also have that added delight of re-awakening your mind to the beauty of the earth.

Please tell me someone has heard of Leif Enger. If you have not, I hope you will take the time to stop and at least read a few chapters of either book. I don't think you will regret the experience.

1 comment:

jamesfenwick said...

I have heard of Leif Enger; I see his name on the spine of Peace Like A River every time I scan over your bookshelf.

But I have not read Leif Enger. I simply don't want you to become demoralized if no one else replies to your entreatment. :)