So Brave, Young, and Handsome: A Novel

So Brave, Young, and Handsome: A Novel - Leif Enger [book:Peace Like a River], Enger's first novel, had simple, elegant writing and a believable, suspenseful plot that set the author loping comfortably between the literary buttes of Larry McMurtry and John Steinbeck. River felt like a classic before you were halfway through the book. So Brave, Young, and Handsome is set at the same pace, and holds to the same style of writing, and if that process seems now too easily reproduced, or too wash worn to stun us at second sight, the casualness of this appearance holds only until you strike upon a sentence remarkable for its strong characterization, and gracefully evocative of its captured time and place.If River was a book about faith, So Brave is a novel of family. But themes center also on that great western trope of identity, as defined by family, by action, by location, happenstance, and also by lie. Characters are carefully cast and perfectly named: Hood Roberts, Jack Waits, and Glendon Hale are born in the mind the moment you hear their names. The heart of the novel lay, as with all great stories, with its women, and though held to the perimeter for much of the story, is the their presence - Blue's, Susannah Becket's - that casts a horizon toward which all the men march.The only regret you'll have is that there are too few pages for characters so rich. But thankfully books like this are not chocolate; they are not a taste from which a person really ever grows sick.