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So Brave, Young and Handsome

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  6,497 ratings  ·  1,306 reviews
One of Time magazine’s top-five novels of the year and a New York Times bestseller, Leif Enger’s first novel, Peace Like a River, captured readers’ hearts around the nation. His new novel is a stunning successor–a touching, nimble, and rugged story of an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes w ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Random House Audio
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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 appeara ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

I can't be a Leif Enger completist after two novels. No! Arrrgh! Alas, this terrific writer only has two novels under his belt in his (fifteen year) career, but I can assure you, when he gets the gumption to write again, I will be there waiting.

Yeah, and no, 2008's So Brave, Young, and Handsome is not as good as his debut, 2001's Peace Like a River, but it's pretty darn good enough, despite a few minor tics (like that seemingly-Wiley Cash-inspired title for starters). It's probably not
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: Failing novelist and failure of a farmer Monte Becket, Minnesotan manque, meets Glendon the gangster via the good offices of his son the pathologically friendly, and to the undisguised disgust and reluctant encouragement of his dreary, negative wife, takes off to Mexico with Glendon to see what he can see.

My Review: I started this book annoyed. I did NOT like the pseudoformal English that the author posits regular people used a century ago, felt it was such a
Patrick Oden
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like good books
Shelves: fiction, history
"I said, 'Most men never have the chance to be both things at once, the hero and the devil.'

'That is ignorant. Most men are hero and devil. All men. That is what ruins it with wives.'

'She wanted just the hero?'

'Bad men or good she would've had me either way. She couldn't endure both, however. She said to pick one and to be that thing only so that she might trust me until the day of Jesus.'"

There is a perspective in some ancient cultures about in-between places and times. Dawn and dusk, which lie
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure it's worth while me telling you what this book is about. Because this is one of the books that is more about the how (or maybe even the why) then the what. I would have a better shot of conveying what the book is about if I told you that it was like the smell of an orange or one of those gurgling brooks you happen upon unexpectedly in a hike. If you like sentences and how they sound when you listen to them and what they don't say when you stop to think about them, then you will enjo ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Oh, I wanted so much to like this book...I loved Peace Like a River, and would recommend that one wholeheartedly. And I was prepared to love this one, too, but just...couldn't.

I did love Monte Beckett at the beginning--his angst over writing 1,000 words a day in order to turn out a follow-up to his unexpected bestseller. I loved that one of his throw-away stories sounded much like the plot line for Peace. I found all his characters at the beginning of the book to be intriguing and likeable.

And t
Apr 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's here! Finally, after almost 6 years, the second book by Leif Enger! He wrote Peace Like a River - my all-time #1 favorite!

I liked it in the end. It's no Peace, but it was a good story. I couldn't feel the characters as deeply as in Peace ... I wish we had more time with Redstart and Hood, less with Siringo. But, the overall themes were ones I could get behind: true love endures, forgiveness is sweet on both the giving and receiving end, there is a fine nobleness in voluntary justice, and r
The term "Heartbreaking work of staggering genius" gets bandied about a lot these days, but in this case it's very well earned. As I knew it would be. The man who wrote the sublime PEACE LIKE A RIVER could not possibly write a bad grocery list, let alone a bad book.

Though I do wonder if there is anything autobiographical here. The narrator, Monte Becket, is a writer. A former postal worker, actually, who wrote a novel on a whim and had it become a runaway bestseller. And now he sits, day after
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to bookczuk by: hazrabai
Crud, crud, crud. I meant to write my review of this when I finished it, but now it's been several weeks and a bunch of books in between. Still the story has stayed with me. While I can no longer recall a specific eloquence of phrase, the overall flavor of the story, with the wonders of the early 20th century: train travel, Wild West shows, outlaws, Pinkertons, sharpshooters and cheap penny novels. The basic story is one of an aging train robber, Glendon Hale, seeking redemption from the love of ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a Minnesota man, the narrator, Monte Becket, in 1910 who had written a 'western' that made his name familiar to many but now feels that he somehow did not deserve the accolades of family, friends, and the world. One day he looks through the mist at the Cannon River running by his home where he lives with beautiful wife Susannah and 8 year old son, Redstart to see salvation in the form of failed man, Glendon Hale, rowing into view. They meet Hood Roberts, a young mechanic who w ...more
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandi by: Bookczuk
So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel is a very interesting read. It's got so many layers and nuances. Set in 1912,the narrator is a Minnesota postal worker who wrote a fabulously successful novel, quit his day job, and hasn't been able to write anything since. He befriends with an old guy who builds boats, and leaves his wife and son to spend six weeks helping his new friend find his long-lost love. It quickly becomes apparent that Monte is either a very poor judge of character or that he is th ...more
Larry H
I absolutely loved Leif Enger's first novel, Peace Like a River. He's a terrific writer. So needless to say, I was really looking forward to reading his follow-up novel. And I loved much of it a great deal.

Living in Minnesota in 1915, Monte Becket was a one-time successful novelist hoping inspiration will strike him a second time. Eking out a humdrum existence, one day he befriends Glendon Hale, a vagabond outlaw who wants to head to Mexico to find his one true love, whom he abandoned to flee la
Book Concierge
Audiobook narrated by Dan Woren.

Monte Becket has had one greatly successful novel published, but he cannot seem to write another book. He lives with his wife, Susanna, and son on a farm in Minnesota, and keeps promising his publisher that he’s working hard on the next novel. Then one day he notices a man rowing a boat while standing up. Spurred by his son, Monte befriends Glendon, and the older man confesses to regret at abandoning his wife some two decades previously. When Glendon decides that
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Leif Enger fans, the merciful ones.
I knew Enger would have a hard time writing a book as powerful as Peace Like a River, and well, he didn't. But, but--his second book is crafted much the same as the first: metaphorical, each word carefully chosen, the characters obviously well-loved and intimately known by their maker, a richly drawn setting. The story, though, isn't appealing to me, I think because it's a romantic western set in 1914 and because the chain of obstacles and resolutions in the plot just aren't plausible.

I know wh
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This was good stuff. I like the ending on this one better than Enger’s first. The solid, true-crime-feel held through to the end. Enger has a way of using bright thick words that surprise. For those who are interested here is what Idaho feels like. The characters were fascinating and engaging. I think Charles Siringo was the best. As far as bad guys go, he is at the top: complex, subtle, creepy. Glendon is a close second as far as best character and he has lots of interesting surprises as well. ...more
Stephen Gallup
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Occasionally the narrator of this wonderful tale refers to the misadventures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which had occurred a few years prior but which of course to a modern audience are understood in terms of the movie. In both stories, the protagonists are pursued by an implacable detective -- somebody almost inhuman in his ability to keep on coming in spite of every effort to shake him off.

There’s a crucial difference, however, in that this is a story of redemption. A failed writer
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by the 2012 Book Lover's Page-A-Day Calendar. Entry was for January 21/22, 2012.

Do you know what I loved about this book?

Virtually everything.

It's been a long time since I've taken a gamble on a new author and been so utterly blown away by the words they had to say. And Leif Enger's sophomore effort-- the simple story of three men attempting to relive past glory-- did nothing if it didn't blow me away.

The plot is simple: Washed-up novelist Monte Beckett befriends fugit
Kelsey Bryant
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully crafted and satisfying novel. Although Westerns are not my top genre (which this sort of was, though set in 1915 and trailing the end of the era), I like them every now and then if they're told in the right style. Leif Enger's prose makes the genre of secondary importance, however. I think I'd enjoy pretty much anything he writes! He has a way with words that is refreshing in a contemporary novelist. He takes the time to craft his words and paint his world and his character ...more
Diane Groves
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoyed this book. It was described as a "picaresque" novel which describes it very well. The dictionary description of picaresque is: "satiric prose fiction in realistic, often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social degree living by his wits in a corrupt society". Exactly!
The time period is the early 1900's in the Midwest and West Coast. The story is told thru the eyes of Monte, an author who has written one very popular book and can't come up with a second one. He
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not on the same level as Peace Like a River but still so good. Leif Enger does a great job with characters, morality, and relationships. I think he’s a great example of what a Christian author can look like.
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since reading "Peace Like a River" seven years ago, I've been anxiously awaiting Enger's second book. While I would not rank this one quite as high as "Peace," I still enjoyed it tremendously.

This appears to be a somewhat autobiographical novel about a writer named Monte Becket who makes it big on his first book, but then fails to produce a second. After years of writing meaningless sentences, he meets and befriends the outlaw Glendon Hale, who is on his way west to right the wrongs of his
"They were presently in agreement that vagabonds were the most alluring terror locally available."

Monte Becket is a mild-mannered family man and former postman turned author. After having achieved considerable success with his first novel, an adventure tale about a pony express rider, he is struggling to second novel. When his son invites a stranger for dinner, Monte Becket's whole world turns upside down and he is led on an adventure every bit as exciting and dangerous as the character in his
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A writer, Monte Beckett, meets his neighbor, Glendon Hale, a lovable train robber and along the way they meet up with Hood Roberts, a young mechanic. Monte gets six weeks from home life to travel with Glendon. They are pursued by Charlie Siringo, a former Pinkerton agent. The book turns on Monte becoming a willing hostage and at the end Glendon turns himself, willingly. From about p. 150 on, I felt like I was following the exploits of a dumbshit. I didn’t believe anyone would do that. The book h ...more
Ryan Boomershine
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, top-reads
Stirring, sterling fiction. A good story magnificently told.

2nd read (first time on Kindle, 2nd on audio with the family)
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
much as with Peace Like a River, don't rush this one.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is hard to believe that this author has only written two books. The first one 'Peace Like a River' I presented at my book club a few years ago and everyone loved it! This one is just as enchanting.

The book starts off in 1915 Minnesota at the home of Monte Beckett. He and his 14 year old son Redstart observe a man standing on a skiff and using a pole to paddle upstream on the Cannon river near their home. Redstart decides to find this man, Glendon, and invite him to the family home for a meal
Kameron Nettleton
Enger is no one-hit wonder. His ability to use words reminds me of some of the best prose I've had the opportunity to read - he's up there with Fitzgerald and Hemingway (and, dare I say, John Green, who I have to admit is a master wordsmith, even if I loathe his books). This book touches your heart and can make you ache, at times. Enger says so much and leaves so much unsaid, and that is his greatest power. Story and character aside, you must read this book simply because it is so beautiful to r ...more
Jenni Davis
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I wish Enger would write many more books. I love his way of subtly desribing a scene. His humor is inderstated but sharp, and his character development is delightful: everyone is a saint, and everyone is a sinner.

This is not an action-packed western. You won't enjoy it if you are looking for a soaring arc of adventure. The magic happens in the quiet moments in this book.
Laurie Reyes
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been listening to this audiobook for the past week or so and I truly didn’t want it to end. Leif is my hands down favorite!! If I could write like anybody, it would be him. Just so so so good. I liked it almost as much as Peace like a River.
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was a really interesting story, and i've never read anything like it. although i'm curious to know what the title means and im not really sure what the theme is.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine editions 4 20 May 27, 2018 04:59AM  
Play Book Tag: So Brave Young and Handsome / Leif Enger - 3*** 1 11 Apr 26, 2018 04:32AM  
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Leif Enger was raised in Osakis, Minnesota, and worked as a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio for nearly twenty years. He lives on a farm in Minnesota with his wife and two sons.

His writing is a smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, recalling the Old West's greatest cowboy stories.

Enger's novel, Peace Like a River, was one of Time magazine's top-five novels of the year 2001
“Love is a strange fact - it hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. It makes no sense at all.” 32 likes
“Why is it our failures only show us more clearly the people we are failing?” 14 likes
More quotes…