So Brave, Young and Handsome Paperback – 4 Jun 2009
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A formidably gifted writer. wise and knowing about the ubiquity of the human condition and the vagaries of the human heart' Chicago Tribune. (Chicago Tribune)
Wondrous and wise - Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes. (Frank McCourt)
Sharp and brainy. Enger's laid claim to a musical, sometimes magical and deeply satisfying kind of storytelling' Los Angeles Times. (Los Angeles Times)
Heart-achingly beautiful - Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer. (Nicholas Evans)
From the Back Cover
`We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly, And bitterly wept as we bore him along. For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young, and handsome, We all loved our comrade, although he'd done wrong'.
Minnesota, 1915. Glendon Hale is a wanted man, a train robber who's been in hiding for years. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon decides to travel back to his past and find the wife he abandoned long ago.
On a misty river one morning, he meets Monte Becket, a failing author. Together with Hood. A headstrong youth who longs for the life of a cowboy, the two men set out, travelling from the old West into the new. But all the while, they are pursued by Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton determined to bring Glendon to justice.
A road trip to end all road trips, So Brave, Young, and Handsome is an elegiac tribute to the great storytelling traditions of the old West and a classic work of modern American fiction.
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Top Customer Reviews
Monte Becket lives with wife and young son in rural Minnesota along the Cannon River during the second decade of the 20th century. To date, Becket's one claim to wealth and fame is his wildly popular pulp Western, MARTIN BLIGH. His publisher wants more, but, lately, Monte's muse has failed him. Becket is drifting and anticipating failure as a writer, husband and father. Then one day, out of the fog on the river, a white-haired old man paddles his boat past. Enter into Monte's life boat-builder Glendon Hale, formerly Glen Dobie of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang.
Hale was once married to a Mexican girl named Blue. But, sought by the Federales, Glendon deserted her never to return. Now, years later, he desires to go back and apologize to the woman he truly loved. He invites Monte to accompany him on the journey, and the latter, fearing the stagnation in his life, accepts. Along the way appears Charles Siringo, also once of the Hole-in-the-Wall, but now a self-anointed lawman of some legend, mostly constructed from books that he himself has written. Charles, now an old man himself, is in relentless pursuit of Glen Dobie for past crimes.
SO BRAVE, YOUNG AND HANDSOME is a coming-of-maturation story by Leif Enger. Its characterizations and narrative pace are reminiscent of Larry McMurtry's novels of the West, e.g. the superlative Lonesome Dove.Read more ›
The story of a road trip that starts in Minnesota and eventually ends in California is also the story of a trip back in time. Set in 1915, each of the three characters is looking backwards - Monte with his book set in a, for him, imagined world of the old West; Hood, the young motor mechanic, who clings to the romantic idea of being a cowboy in a world that is moving on; and Glendon, the only one of the three with experience of the old days, a former outlaw of the Hole in the Wall era and still wanted for crimes committed years ago. Each of the three is searching for something in the past, and in a sense they each find what they're looking for - but perhaps not as either they or the reader might expect.
Into this mix comes Charlie Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton man, determined to hunt down Glendon for one final blast of glory. Siringo, somewhat oddly, is based on a real Pinkerton agent though, from what I understand, pretty loosely. In the book, he's the legal good guy but the moral bad guy, as the reader's sympathies are very much with the three fugitives. Well, we always did prefer Butch and Sundance to the Sheriff, didn't we?Read more ›
I think I probably bought it without reading the synopsis and mistook it for a historical fiction about WWI, which it wasn't. Instead, it was a story about a novelist who loses his purpose and sets off randomly on a trip with a man who drifts past his home in a rowboat one afternoon.
A mixture of adventure, road-trip and self-discovery, I didn't form a huge attachment to any of the characters. I could sympathise with Monte's loss of direction, and I could understand his need for some kind of adventure, but I really didn't get why, despite his unending comments about wanting to go home to his wife, that he didn't just go back and pick up his old life. I'm not sure if the author was aiming for a sinister or action-packed story, but if that is the case then on both fronts it didn't really work - I didn't feel any kind of danger for the characters, nor a sense that Monte wouldn't make it through his adventure.
There was however a distinctly wild feel to the story, and Monte and Glendon's wandering bought them to some very unique and vividly drawn locations, from the circus/rodeo to the open planes of Ohio and through to the hills of California, so there was a definite feeling of a real road-trip across 1910's America.
The favourite part of my book was the ending (and no, not because it was finishing!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The line above, in the title to this review, is attributed to John Gardner and describes "some disruption of order - the usual novel beginning". Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ancient Mariner
Loved "Peace Like a River" so much, and waited a long time for another book from the same author. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2014 by anonymum
Four INTRIGUING Stars!! The novel "So Brave, Young, and Handsome" is set in the waning days of the Old West in 1915 and follows the exploits of Monte Becket, a 'flash in the pan'... Read morePublished on 27 April 2012 by RBSProds
This gentle book carries you along effortlessly and you'll enjoy its company so much it will seem like an old friend you'll want to revisit again and again. Read morePublished on 18 April 2012 by fishface
This is a very well written story set in a fascinating period, the last days of the wild west. The hero is an ordinary modern man, indecisive, weak willed but likeable and human. Read morePublished on 24 Oct. 2011 by S. J. Blackburn
In the past I have enjoyed reading novels set in the American West,about their way of life and with some human interest, so I was expecting more from this book than it actually... Read morePublished on 20 Oct. 2011 by jmd
What marks out this novel from other 'road' fiction is its narrator, Monte Beckett. He's eloquent, charming, naive and loyal. He wears the novel's dark themes lightly. Read morePublished on 14 Sept. 2010 by Not Stoppard
To compare this to " Lonesome Dove " is just plain daft !
Leif Enger is no Larry McMurtry , no Cormac McCarthy , not even an Annie Proulx : all great exponents of... Read more
Leif Enger continues to be a delightful teller of tales, continuing his love of the mythic West, when the world was full of adventures, heroes and villains who are not always what... Read morePublished on 28 Aug. 2009 by Lady Fancifull