Cover Image: Virgil Wander

Virgil Wander

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This was a strong effort by Enger.  Fans of Enger's earlier fiction will certainly be interested in this novel.
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Have you ever wondered what would happen if you came back from the dead to your life that you lived before? Me too. I. Virgil Wander it is like that but so much different. Virgil car crashes into Lake Superior, he survives - goodness he is one lucky duck! However, he is not the man he was before, because his memory and language are affected by the crash, he landed in Lake Superior and neither is his midwestern town. 
What ripples on from there is one of the best books i have read in a long time. Enger is a masterful writer and i hope after Virgil Wander he doesn’t wait again another 10 years to give us another deeply rich and entertaining view into lives we may never experience.

5 stars! 

Thanks to Netgalley, Leif Enger and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read Virgil Wander in lieu of my honest review. I’m just sorry it took me so long to get to the book.
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Loved Virgil Wander - such wonderful characters and so beautifully written. I listened to this one and the reader was great. This would make a great Bookclub choice.
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A lovely novel ostensibly about a man finding himself after a major accident, but really about the lives of the people in his small Midwestern town. Leif Enger's beautiful prose and portrait of life make the 10-year wait completely worth it.
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Award winning author Leif Enger (Peace Like A River;  So Brave, Young and Handsome) uplifts the heart and senses with Virgil Wander.  

A moderate male choosing to live in a bad luck town, whose part time jobs include town scribe and owner/operator of an almost defunct cinema, Virgil Wanders putters along until he drives off Highway 61 into icy Lake Superior.  Virgil goes into the water an indeterminate lump. He rises from his near death immersion  terse and to the point having lost all his adjectives and most of his placid personality.  As he recovers and the tale unfolds, mysterious persons and pasts converge, some of them real.

There is much to ponder and relish in Virgil Wander--murderous sturgeons and little boys, amazing kites, lost love and patient hearts, Death and death, celluloid and bombs. Enger has a masterful command of language; all my pages were bookmarked.  The description of Greenstone's miserable and fantastical catastrophes is worth the price of admission. Or this perfect movie house gem, "He flourished two spools on the flats of his hands, threaded the old machine as though buttering up a favorite aunt..He stretched out his long fingers and rotated dials that seemed to have called to him from posterity."

Endearing, thought provoking, mythic and suspenseful, this charmed American folk tale will settle firmly on your bookshelf next to Big Fish, Tales from Lake Wobegon and your favorite Mark Twain. It bears re-reading and soon.
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Wow! This is a very well written book. The prose has underlying meanings that make you take a few moments and reflect on what the author is saying. It took a little bit to get into the story but once there you connect with the characters and care about what is happening to them and why. I would definitely read more by this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC copy of the book. The opinions expressed above are my own.
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No one writes characters and creates universes like Leif Enger. I thoroughly enjoyed Peace Like a River and was ecstatic to read Virgil Wander. I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed! It's long but definitely worth getting to know the people in these pages. Highly recommended.
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This book didn't go anywhere for most of the book, and then at the very end suddenly picked up in action.  It felt a bit jarring to me.  I do love Enger's writing style, his characterization, and I'd readily read his next book.  I preferred his others though.
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I love books that center around a small town vibe. They are charming, quirky and just so delightful. This book was no exception to that opinion. So beautifully written and such great characters. I can not say enough good things about this one. Read it you won’t be disappointed!
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On the surface, the town of Greenstone would appear nothing less than ordinary but when Enger focuses in on the minutiae of their lives what emerges is a beloved quirkiness that draws you to their story. And dare I say this dips its foot into magical realism?! I definitely was feeling the uncomfortable presence of Adam Leer.

Peace Like a River is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s hard not to compare but I tried to read this on its own merit. I very much enjoyed this book and think one difference is the emotional pull. Peace leaves me in a puddle, breaking my heart into splinters with the purpose of mending it back stronger. Virgil doesn’t have that same effect, it’s more subtle in plot looking more into the connections between people and how they live every day together, what gives them purpose and hope. “Your tribe is always bigger than you think.” Enger is a standout in modern American fiction.
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***Now available in soft cover.***

Virgil Wander is a charming and magical story set in a small Midwestern town known for its bad luck.  Virgil is a middle-aged town clerk and owner of the local movie house.  Before his accident he is well liked but unassuming.  He is the type of person who could easily blend into the background without quite ever being seen.  After his near death experience he suffers traumatic brain injury.  He may not quite remember what the "previous resident" of his body would do are even recall the proper adjectives to use in speech.  Yet he is revitalized.  This new abridged version of Virgil Wander is more assertive and "a bit less angry" with himself.  He doesn't fall back as quickly or just accept things as they are.  He stands up for himself and takes more risks.  This new Virgil is more true to himself.  

With a host of endearing, quirky characters, Virgil Wander is a cute and wonderful story about starting over, building meaningful relationships and finding home.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Grove Atlantic Press and Leif Enger for access to this book.
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Many people, at some point in their lives, experience a profound event that completely alters the path they'd previously been on.  The kind of event experienced ranges anywhere from the beginning or ending of a relationship, the loss or gain of a loved one, a traumatic injury, and so forth.  In the case of Virgil Wander, it is a near-catastrophic car accident.  Everything of who he was prior to the accident is still there, in his head, but the memories are slow in returning.  As they do, that man doesn't feel like him anymore.  He wonders if he should even try to be that man, or if he should take this opportunity to forge a whole new self.  Maybe the self he should have been all along.

When forging a new path, it's expected that mistakes will be made.  As we grow up, when we're in our single digits and teen years, it's understood that we will make mistakes.  There is an expectation that, not only will there be mistakes, there will be the getting back up after and deciding if that mistake signals the end of a road or a skill to be learned.  Once we reach adulthood, though, that understanding seems to disappear.

At some point, we realize that we're expected to have life all figured out.  We're supposed to be on our determined path and to have certainty that our path is the correct one for us.  There's not supposed to be any changing.  Even if something traumatic and life-altering happens, we're supposed to spend our time fighting to get back to where we were before the event.

When Virgil survived his car accident, he was "supposed" to spend all of his time and energy fighting to regain all of his memories and go back to the way life was before.  That's the expectation, both from himself and from all who know him.  He should take a little time, heal physically, and then strive to go back to the way things were, as though nothing ever happened.  Why is that so important?

Virgil's journey is his effort to challenge and answer that question.  Does he need to go back?  What if this is his chance to go forward like he never could before?

I loved every page of this book.  It is inspiring, evocative, and hopeful.  Even when something happens in our lives that throw us off-course - or maybe especially when something happens - we can turn it into an opportunity.  If only we dare.
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'Virgil Wander' by Leif Enger is his first novel in ten years.  His first novel 'Peace Like a River' is one of my favorites.

Virgil Wander has survived a car crash into an icy lake when we meet him.  He has some cognitive and physical limits.  This makes it hard to run the small movie theater he owns.  He takes in a roommate in Rune, a man who builds kites and ponders the mystery of his missing son.  The small town is full of other unusual, but real, characters, all suffering their own version of tragedies.

Leif Enger has way of creating affably memorable characters.  In previous books, characters have gone on journeys.  In this book, the journey is more internal and the quirky hard luck town becomes a character of its own.  Loving a place and the oddball characters that inhabit it are what happens to Virgil Wander.  We don't get many hints about his life before the accident, but this book feels like the character is born anew with a chance to rebuild his world.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Grove Atlantic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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This is my kind of story, reminiscent of Fredrik Backman’s quirky characters in down-on-their luck communities, or the true-grit folks you might have seen years ago on the television show Northern Exposure. While Virgil is the eponymous hero of this novel, Enger offers us plenty of other characters to love in this small Midwestern town. As promised in the publisher’s notes, this is truly a place where captivating whimsy is the order of the day. A perfect summer read.

For Goodreads:

Why I picked it — Read the summary from the publisher, how could I not?
Reminded me of… The elegant, moving language of my favorite Fredrik Backman books.
For my full review — click here
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I was looking forward to reading this from the great Leif Enger, but although I tried, I couldn't. The beginning is very confusing, the language likewise. Maybe if you read this in paperback format it's better, but as an ebook is unsatisfactory.
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A warm, feel good novel but thought provoking as well. The characters are quirky but you care about what happens to them.  Thoroughly enjoyed it!
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I loved Leif Enger's book, Peace Like a River and looked forward to this book with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, Enger's beautiful writing and atmospheric descriptions of a small town in Minnesota, could not rescue the absolutely dull plot that never seemed to gain any speed. Virgil and other characters are nicely drawn, but just as Virgil seems to have lost his ability to locate adjectives after a car accident affected his cognition, Enger seems to have lost his ability to write these quirky characters into an engaging story.
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The pace of small town life is historically slow and that's my feeling about the pacing of Virgil Wander. That is not the fault of Leif Enger. His writing is absolutely beautiful. His detailed setting come alive in my mind due to his exquisite descriptions.  I think I have spent too much time in the psychological thriller genre, and it has made me impatient.  What I really appreciated in Virgil Wander was the complexity of the characters and how the town itself became a character.  The story was slow moving, almost meandering as someone said here, but  once I settled into Mr Enger's style, I found it quite enjoyable and entertaining. 
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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Virgil Wander almost died. Following his accident, he's a new person. His language has lost many adjectives and adverbs, but that only makes him sound more assertive, something Virgil has never been guilty of. 

Middle-aged and a bit of a loner, he's been cruising along, working as a city clerk during the day and running at a loss the Empress - the only cinema in the small, dying Greenstone, Minnesota. Life was uneventful and extremely predictable.

The accident gives him a bit of notoriety. One day, Virgil stumbles across an old Scandinavian man named Rune who was flying a kite by the lake. Virgil offers Rune his spare room above the Empress. The old man Rune becomes a town fixture, well known for his marvellous kites. 

Peppered with a cast of interesting characters, this novel is deep, humorous, whimsy and very atmospheric.

I found it utterly charming.
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I live in the Midwest, so when I see a book that's written about a town, real or fictional, in the midwest, I'm always intrigued. And let me tell you, this book does not disappoint. Virgil Wander is a classic midwesterner, just going along in life, when one night, his car slides off the road and into Lake Superior. 

Virgil survives, but his language and memories aren't the same. As he begins to piece together his life, this "reawakening" might be exactly what his sleepy little town needs to be revived. 

This book was just so much fun. The author has a gift for beautiful writing, mixed with humor and captivating detail. This will especially be a fun read for anyone who lives in a small town, and can appreciate all that living in a small town comes with.
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