It is the general belief that the success of most novelists' sophomore attempts is inversely proportional to the success of their first novels. Monte Becket, the main character in Leif Enger's new one, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, is a successful one-book writer who is stuck on his second attempt. He is unable to produce a follow-up in spite of his promises to produce one thousand words a day. Fortunately, Enger did not suffer from the same block as his protagonist, and manages to defy the sophomore slump. His follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Peace Like a River does not disappoint. The story follows Becket as his quiet Minnesota life with his wife and son intersects with outlaw-in-hiding Glendon Hale. Becket follows Hale on his trip across the country to California where he hopes to reconcile with the wife he left 20 years ago. High jinx, friendships, romance, and tragedy ensue. Enger fans have been waiting seven years for this novel, and it's well worth the wait.
Sun., May 18, 2 p.m., 2008