Enger, Leif 1961–
Enger, Leif 1961–
(L.L. Enger, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in Osakis, MN; married; wife's name Robin; children: two sons. Education: Minnesota State University, Moorhead, B.A., 1983.
ADDRESSES: Home—Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota. Agent—Paul Cirone, Aaron Priest Agency, 703 Third Ave., 23rd Fl., New York, NY 10017.
CAREER: Novelist. Minnesota Public Radio, reporter and producer, 1984–2000.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Book of the Year, Amazon.com, 2001, for Peace like a River. Peace like a River was also chosen for the "One Book, One Denver" reading program in 2004.
(With brother, Lin Enger, under joint pseudonym L.L. Enger) Sacrifice (novel) Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
(With brother, Lin Enger, under joint pseudonym L.L. Enger) The Sinners' League: A Gun Pedersen Mystery (novel), O. Penzler Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Peace like a River (novel), Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Also author, with brother Lin Enger, under joint pseudonym L.L. Enger, of the mystery novels Swing, Comeback, and Strike, all published by Pocket Books (New York, NY).
SIDELIGHTS: Leif Enger is a writer who has won acclaim for his first solo novel, Peace like a River. Enger's literary debut, which begins in rural Minnesota during the early 1960s, tells the story of Reuben Land, an adolescent beset with a chronic respiratory disorder and a wayward brother, Davy. When Davy guns down two home invaders and leaves town, Reuben joins his father, a poetry aficionado working as a school janitor, and his little sister, a tomboy obsessed with reading cowboy novels and preparing her own verse about a gunslinger, in searching for the runaway brother. The family's ensuing travels lead them into strange and miraculous experiences, including an encounter with a seemingly bottomless soup pot at a roadside eatery. "By the end," reported Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times, "life itself seems miraculous and strange: from the fact of breath to the possibility of justice."
Upon publication in 2001, Peace like a River received recognition as a uniquely entertaining novel. "The miracle of Peace like a River is the irresistibility of a well-told tale," wrote C.K. Hubbuch in Ruminator Review. Hubbuch noted, "Enger writes on the precarious edge of traditionalism. He veers toward sentimentality, but the strength of his story and characters keeps his novel real." Another reviewer, Rob Thomas, described Enger's novel, in a Capital Times assessment, as "an odd little novel that mixes a wintry Minnesota setting with flashes of magical realism." But Greg Changnon, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, praised Peace like a River as "a book full of wisdom and grace, a literary potboiler that celebrates the glory of faith." Michael Pearson, in another Atlanta Journal-Constitution review, expressed similar praise, stating that Enger's novel "has the power to convince that, despite sorrow, human experience is a miracle of ordinary truth and extraordinary love." Katherine Dieckmann was less impressed, commenting in the New York Times Book Review that "Enger's world … seems unlikely to have ever existed," though she thought, "he manages to infuse sections of this novel with some surprisingly lively writing and deftly turned sentences." Brad Hooper concluded in another Booklist appraisal, "Enger's profound understanding of human nature stands behind his compelling prose."
Enger—in collaboration with his brother Lin Enger—has also published several mystery novels centering on the exploits of a former baseball player. "It was one of those mercenary adventures that comes up empty-handed," Enger told BookPage interviewer Alden Mudge. "Nobody really read them and they didn't get much attention and we didn't get paid very much for them." He added, "We had a lot of fun doing it, and it was a fabulous apprenticeship for me."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 14, 2001, Michael Pearson, "A Miraculously Good Tale with a Western Twang," p. B5; November 25, 2001, Greg Changnon, review of Peace like a River, p. C5.
Booklist, May 15, 2001, Brad Hooper, review of Peace like a River, p. 1707; June 1, 2001, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Peace like a River, p. 1838.
Economist (London, England), September 8, 2001, "Big, Bold, Bare, and Spare," p. 112.
Entertainment Weekly, September 28, 2001, Karen Valby, review of Peace like a River, p. 68.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 2, 2001, Susan Salter Reynolds, review of Peace like a River, p. 11.
New York Times Book Review, September 9, 2001, Katherine Dieckmann, "Miracle Worker," p. 19.
People, October 8, 2001, Bella Stander, review of Peace like a River, p. 59.
Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2001, review of Peace like a River, p. 166; September 3, 2001, Daisy Maryles, "An Indie Favorite," p. 20.
Ruminator Review, fall, 2001, C.K. Hubbuch, "Magical Mystery Tour," p. 48.
Amazon.com, http://amazon.com/ (April 22, 2002), "Claire Dederer, "Amazon.com's Best of 2001."
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 2, 2001), Alden Mudge, "Riding the Wave of Leif Enger's Dazzling Debut."