It’s spring! Around Puget Sound, we just had a three-day storm off the Pacific with winds up to fifty miles an hour, but the tulip fields survived. A few golden ones from our garden, a bit windblown, light the dining table. The cherry trees are at the end of their glory, but the apple trees are just coming. It’s the time of renewal and high time to renew our faith in the human species.
Two weeks have passed since masks came off in Washington State with no surge in covid cases. Yes, we probably will get a surge from the latest variant, but if you haven’t taken time to stand up and stretch in relief, do it now.
A middle-school teacher friend who came to dinner last night told us that seventy percent of her students are still wearing masks in the classroom. About the same percentage of the country is vaccinated, and the benefits are real. No, not as good as it should be, but real. Thousands of healthcare workers still go to work every day at the nation’s hospitals. Despite the media’s efforts to convince us otherwise, responsible citizenship is not dead.
The Ukrainian people have stopped Putin’s army—a feat no one believed was possible. No, they didn’t destroy Putin, and he’s not going away. But they stopped an army in its tracks and exposed his brutality to the world. They have shown the world the strength of a people united in the name of democracy. Take note, America.
Don’t underestimate the power of fear or believe you are immune from its effects. It’s more contagious than covid—you can catch it by reading the news. It absorbs your psyche, blinds you to all else, gives you a target, a place to turn fear to hatred and call it noble. Or it will sink you into depression and make you unable to do anything at all.
Let me suggest a good read—one that will reaffirm your belief in the resilience of the species. I’ve reviewed Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River before, but it seems a good time to do it again. Here it is.
Though I think end of the race is a story of redemption, Leif Enger’s PEACE LIKE A RIVER is a powerful dose of good medicine. An elixir, like breathing deeply of enduring love.
Rather than trying, and failing, to convey a sense of the novel, I’ll defer to others’ descriptions on the back cover of the book:
“Written in prose tart and crisp as a Minnesota autumn, [Peace] Like a River, is seductive and deliciously American and there are passages so wondrous and wise you’ll want to claw yourself with pleasure.” –Frank McCourt
“Once you begin Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, you are carried away by the elemental surge of its story, the sheer eagerness to see what happens to the engrossing characters who exist far from the intrusions of the media in the timeless arena of family love and anguish over a lost member. It is Enger’s gift that he has made their extraordinary world credible.” –Jim Harrison
“Peace Like a River is that loveliest of gifts, a truly great book, into which the reader can sink deliciously and completely. The characters fill the reader’s days and nights; and in the reading of it, we cross over into amazing territory.” –Rick Bass
“Enger’s limpid sentences are composed with the clarity and richness for which poets strive. … Peace Like a River is an exceptionally heartfelt and moving tale about the resilience of family relationships and told through the prism of memory. … Enger’s profound understanding of human nature stands behind his compelling prose.” –Booklist (Starred Review)
According to the book flap:
Leif Enger’s debut is an extraordinary novel—an epic of generosity and heart that reminds us of the restorative power of great literature. The story of a father raising his three children in 1960’s Minnesota, Peace Like a River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation of the possibility of magic in the everyday world.”
If you are a writer, Enger’s novel will make you sit back and sigh, “Oh, to write like that!” This is a book you need to read—in fact, it’s one you need to buy in print so you’ll have it on your bookshelf. It’s that kind of book. I’ll say no more.