Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ordinary Grace

William Kent Krueger has spun his best yarn yet in his highly praised book, Ordinary Grace.
by Charlie Leck

“It seems to me that when you look back at a life, yours or another’s, what you see is a path that weaves into and out of deep shadow. So much is lost… So what I recall of that last summer in New Bremen is a construct both of what stands in the light and what I imagine in the dark where I cannot see.” [from the Epilogue in Ordinary Grace]
A Lutheran Pastor I knew – a man I respected about as much as any man I knew on earth – introduced me to William Kent Krueger. It was twenty years ago or so. He called him Kent. I had chatted with the pastor about a book by Krueger that I’d just read, telling him how much I’d enjoyed it.
“William,” I replied. “William Kent Krueger.”
“I know him well,” the short, white-haired, fragile-looking cleric said. “We call him Kent.”
A few weeks later, at an affair in the Minnesota town of St. Peter, the pastor introduced me to Mr. Krueger and I shook his hand and told him I enjoyed the book I’d read. He replied with something humorous and that was about all there is to this little preamble to my blog.
“Read more,” he said to me that day. “I could use the money!”
Well, I have. I’ve read a number of his mysteries set in Minnesota locations and I’ve found them interesting enough, but I’ve never found them so rewarding that I would proudly recommend them, without exception, to others. Until now!
Over the last few days I read Krueger’s latest novel, Ordinary Grace. It’s one that has earned him lots of acclaim and awards. The Edgar Award (for best novel) is probably the most prestigious of these honors. The distinguished author, Dennis Lehane, said of it: “It’s pitch-perfect! I love this book!”
I’ve gotten to it on the late side – after thousands and thousands of other people have already read it. It’s a New York Times bestseller. And the Huffington Post praised it long ago as a “once in a blue moon” book.
Let me say it plainly and without hesitation: This is a terrific book! It held my rapt attention from beginning to end. I fell in love with the characters and found myself going back to read paragraphs that I’d already read because I found them intriguingly beautiful and I just plain wanted to read them again.
The cast of characters in this story is just wonderful. I haven’t encountered anything quite like it since I read the glorious work by Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding.
I have not read all of Krueger’s works, but I can’t imagine that this one is not his finest writing achievement.
The book is about the summer of 1961 and it is set in a Minnesota town built on the plane along the shores of the murky Minnesota River. The central characters are two young boys who are the sons of very devoted, kind and intelligent Methodist minister. The reader meets a host of wonderful characters who are residents of this town. Some of them are complex and some of them are down-home simple. All of them are beautifully described and delectably interesting.
The story that drives the book is compelling and even remarkable. I hesitate to call this a mystery because I don’t want to limit this book to that genre. It is really quite a remarkable work of literature and it needs to be given that respect.
It’s all pretty-much-too-much death and far too much murder for a small and peaceful community. Neighbors are dragged into complexities that they simply never could have imagined they’d encounter. A labyrinthine Methodist pastor tries to help the townsfolk make sense of the chaos and he succeeds only to a certain point. However, his two very young sons take the explanation of the whole mess to a much deeper level and, through them, we tangle with some of the most important and complex questions of truth and justice.
You will meet at least a dozen characters in this novel that you will find very real and with whom you’ll identify in a pretty personal and meaningful manner. That’s what real good novels do to you. They introduce you to new friends and acquaintances who become real parts of your life and who you remember for a long, long time.
The last book I recommended to you so highly was The Art of Fielding and now I come to you and recommend this one just as highly. You will find Ordinary Grace no ordinary book and you will be pleased you encountered it. If you’re from Minnesota this book is a “must read.” If you’re from someplace else, this book is an “absolute must read.”
My last comment is that Mr. Krueger knows Minnesota. In all his books that I’ve read, he’s proven to be a man familiar with nearly every corner and curve of the state.
If you haven’t, read this book and tell me what you think of it.


Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

No comments:

Post a Comment