Best-selling author grew up in Osakis

DULUTH—You may well learn some new words by reading Leif Enger's long-awaited third novel, "Virgil Wander."

Leif Enger poses by Lake Superior, which figures prominently in his latest novel, "Virgil Wander." (Contributed)

Leif Enger poses by Lake Superior, which figures prominently in his latest novel, "Virgil Wander." (Contributed)

Book jacket from Leif Enger's latest novel. (Contributed)

Book jacket from Leif Enger's latest novel. (Contributed)

The title character suffers a concussion and loses part of his ability to communicate. As he recovers, adjectives slowly drift back to him, lending something of the feel of a thesaurus to the 300-page book. Manky. Contrapposto. Mordant.

In a way, storytelling has drifted back to Enger, too. It's been 10 years since the Osakis native last published a novel, the best-selling "So Brave, Young, and Handsome," and 17 years since his first novel, "Peace Like a River," charmed reviewers from coast to coast.

The 10-year gap didn't exist for lack of effort.

"It had been a long time between the first and second books, and I didn't want it to take so long so I jumped right in," said Enger, speaking from his Duluth home where he'd just returned after weeks on the road promoting his book.

Leif Enger's latest novel features the owner of a small-town movie theatre named after the Empress Theatre that once stood in Osakis. (Contributed)

Leif Enger's latest novel features the owner of a small-town movie theatre named after the Empress Theatre that once stood in Osakis. (Contributed)

But jumping in didn't pay off. He ended up spending five years writing a 400-page manuscript that he threw away. It was set in Greenstone, the town he writes about in "Virgil Wander," but it was told third person and never seemed to hang together, he said. He showed parts to his wife, Robin, before trashing it.

"I just thought, Oh no, I've written a book that I don't like,'" he said. "There was this sinking feeling." 

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Source, image(s), credits & more: DLOnline | Karen Tolkkinen