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Virgil Wander

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  11,575 ratings  ·  2,446 reviews
The first novel in ten years from award-winning, million-copy bestselling author Leif Enger, Virgil Wander is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart.

Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is "cruising along at medium altitude" when his car flies off the road into
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Grove Press
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Elyse I think he's in his late 40's/early 50's. He bought the Empress when he was 21 and inherited reels from the 70's. He's around the same age as Alec wou…moreI think he's in his late 40's/early 50's. He bought the Empress when he was 21 and inherited reels from the 70's. He's around the same age as Alec would be and also Rune, Alec's father, seems to be in his late 60's/early 70's and he was young when he conceived Alec.(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  11,575 ratings  ·  2,446 reviews

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Larry H
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
What a gorgeous, quirky, and utterly charming book! Leif Enger may have made us wait 10 years since his last book, but his newest, Virgil Wander , is definitely worth the wait.

Virgil Wander is the slightly curmudgeonish owner of The Empress, a movie theater in decline in the town of Greenstone, Minnesota—which is also in the midst of its decline. One evening, on a snowy night in early autumn, Virgil's car goes flying off a bridge and into the frigid Lake Superior. Fortunately, the owner of th
Angela M
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
4+ stars
I loved the writing from the beginning and fell for all of these quirky characters, and in the middle of the book I thought maybe this would be a nice story, predictable and sweet. I was partially right. The story ended up being more than that. In this down and out, waning town of Greenstone, MN, not far from Duluth, a lot of tough have things happened and it made perfect sense to rename their annual festival “Hard Luck Days.” Oh it’s humorous to read about them “the frog monsoon” with
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Ever "Wander" why a book doesn't quite work for you?

Virgil Wander is the owner of the local "movie house" when his car goes off the road and into Lake Superior. The accident has left him with memory and language issues and his entire town is unfamiliar to him. Speaking of the town, there are many quirky and interesting characters who remained in their Midwestern town long after others have moved on.

So, I am most likely in the minority on this book, but I have to say that I found parts of this b
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This story is narrated by the character of middle aged, movie theater owner, Virgil Wander. When the story begins, Virgil has just miraculously survived his car sailing off the road into frigid Lake Superior and only lived because the local junk dealer saw the event and was able to pull Virgil out of the sinking car. Virgil now has a traumatic brain injury, with loss of memory, muddled speech and thinking, and no assurance he'll get back his past or his former self. In fact, Virgil calls his cur ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

This book for me was definitely a 3.5 rounded up to a 4 for the writing. I longed to read this new book by the author of “Peace Like a River” which I probably hand sold to hundreds of people. Did I love this book, no I did not, but I liked it. Here’s why:

As you know from the blurb and extensive reviews Virgil Wander is the main protagonist in this book and the story is told from his point of view. We begin with Virgil recovering from a near drowning after his car cras
Diane S ☔
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
4+ In Northern Minnesota there is a small town called Greenstone. Having lost it's industrial footing, those who remain are a hardscrabble, kind of stuck in a rut, group of people. Virgil, is our narrator, he lives above and own the local movie theater, a theater that sells few tickets, but is s community staple. At the beginning of our story, he has just been rescued after driving, accidentally or so he says, off a cliff into a body of water. Recovering he finds out that not only does his memor ...more
Maggie Stiefvater
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, recommended
This book is like one imagines old people are like when one is little: big-hearted and long-winded.
Elyse  Walters
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are many places to pause and re-read some really funny prose...
or linger over some beautiful sentences in the town of Greenstone. It’s a town where people who live there are not sitting around judging it - even though it needs some sprucing up. And/ or their lives need some ‘sprucing’.

Virgil’s near escape death accident - flying off a cliff in his car - brings curiosity. Townspeople have interesting questions for him about his accident. Many questions surprise him.
Virgil is curious about
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 charming stars to Virgil Wander! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Virgil Wander, the main character, owns a movie theater and lives in small town Minnesota. He has a driving accident where his car lands in frigid Lake Superior. After the accident, his memory and language are impaired, and life is completely new to him.

Virgil sets out to piece his life back together with information he can find outside himself. Through some quirky characters, he is able to fill in gaps, while he helps them revitalize their sleepy,
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, minnesota, 2018, netgalley
4.5 Stars

“Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who's in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that's good enough for me

“Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's probably where they'll bury me”

--Small Town, John Mellencamp, Songwriters: John Mellencamp

”If I were to pinpoint when the world began reorganizing itself—that is, when my seeing of it began to shift—it would be the day a stranger named R
We have waited a decade for more beautiful, heart-wrenching tales from the incredible Leif Enger but the wait was worth it to have the astounding story of Virgil Wander.

Virgil Wander is a sad tale about a declining rust-belt town; a town that has seen much better days as has it people. Yet the perspective changes when Virgil’s car plunges off a cliff into the icy waters below. His survival, subsequent “spidery” thoughts due to a concussion and the arrival of a mystical Swede named Rune, will of
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, there are certainly a lot of subplots going on in this story, but I did enjoy it overall, especially due to the characters.
Greenstone, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior used to be quite a booming town but is in a season of “hard luck” days. We have the likes of Virgil who has a near death experience at the start of the book and all the other characters and happenings revolve around him... and, I loved him 😊
We have a missing Major League Baseball player from the past, a Nordic kite f
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Diane Barnes' review
Shelves: public-library
Memory's oldest trick is convincing us of its accuracy.

The small town of Greenstone, Minnesota has had its share of bad luck through the years.  Once a thriving mining and shipping community, it is now systematically withering on the vine.  Virgil Wander is a man who probably should have died, but was saved.  He's banged up, with a severe concussion resulting in partial memory loss and a general confusion of how things really are.  Beat with him as he tries to regain his memories and his adjecti
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4+ stars

In case you’re wondering, Virgil Wander is the name of the main character in this book. He deserves this unusual name because he is a quirky man living in an odd town at the centre of a unusual story. From one perspective, Virgil is an unlucky man living amongst many unlucky people. The story opens with Virgil recovering from a spectacular car accident, and other characters die or have unfortunate accidents. But this isn’t really a story of woe, but more about community — how the people
Jan 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
A complete letdown. 0 of 10 stars
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-books
A new author to me and I enjoyed it so much that I will certainly be looking out for his other two books.

I am a fan of books set in small town America, full of quirky characters, curious incidents, lots of baking and good old fashioned friendships. These places probably only exist in fiction but I lap them up. Virgil Wander is one of those quirky characters, on the high end of quirk since a near death experience has left him with a little bit of brain damage and an inability to recall many adjec
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I have no idea why I added this book to my TBR list, but add it I did. It's not because I saw reviews praising it and thought, "Well, it's not something I'd normally read but I think I'll give it a try because this review is so enticing". (A couple friends have since written glowing reviews, but at the time, I don't think anyone had). I added it the day I catalogued it for my library so something about the book blurb caught my eye though I really can't figure out what it might have been. Maybe i ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Virgil Wander lives in Greenstone, Minnesota, a town with little to offer and even fewer prospects for the future. The inhabitants are good natured but quirky. In fact most are quirky.
Virgil, the owner of the local movie theater, claims to be “cruising at medium attitude, aspiring vaguely to decency.” But life is altered when Virgil loses control of his Pontiac during a sudden snowstorm and plunges into Lake Superior. Saved by a fellow townsman, Virgil learns he has a mild traumatic brain injury
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4 stars

This is one of those books that I found extremely difficult to rate, as there were many things I enjoyed about the book, yet at the same time, there were also moments where I struggled and thought about giving up on this one and moving on to other more productive reads. A few of the things I loved about this book: the writing, which was gorgeous and masterful and flowed so easily that I got swept up in it from the first page; the characters, all of whom were quirky yet
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
4.5 captivating stars
My reviews can be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...

“Memory’s oldest trick is convincing us of its accuracy.”

Vigil Wander has been in a horrific car accident as his car careened over a cliff and plummeted into the water. He survives thanks to the quick action of a friend but his life changes. He is left with damage and struggles to regain not only his use of language , particularly adjectives, but also to find that lost something, He is a bachelor harborin
“I couldn’t nail down what had changed in the apartment. To begin with, it seemed to belong to someone else. This made a kind of sense—my perceptions had shifted, just as Dr. Koskinen said.
. . .
Bending down I saw my two pale ankles sticking out of my shoes. I’d forgotten socks. Dr. Koskinen said I might forget to turn off the faucet, might gas myself somehow, set my sleeves on fire. He wasn’t thrilled I lived alone.”

Virgil Wander is an unusual name and an unusual fellow because he lives ups
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Enger has beautifully written a tale of magical realism. Greenstone, Minnesota is a town on the shores of Lake Superior that is limping along—the taconite mines have closed, the big ships no longer stop, and even the water tower collapsed and rolled through town. Virgil is the City Clerk and owner of the The Empress movie theater, a derelict building where he shows movies to a half-dozen patrons. The local baseball sensation disappeared ten years ago after flying out over the big lake, leaving h ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading the last page of Virgil Wander I feel like I'm saying goodbye to old friends. This book is set in a small town in Minnesota that has seen better days. After a near death experience Virgil Wander wakes up with a new lease on life. There are plenty of eccentric characters and a mystery to keep you turning the pages. Leif Enger is a master storyteller and I have loved all of his books. I highly recommend and I hope I don't have to wait another ten years for his next.

Thank you Netgalle
Virgil Wander almost died. Following his accident, he's a new person. His language has lost many adjectives and adverbs, but that only makes him sound more assertive, something Virgil has never been guilty of.

Middle-aged and a bit of a loner, he's been cruising along, working as a city clerk during the day and running at a loss the Empress - the only cinema in the small, dying Greenstone, Minnesota. Life was uneventful and extremely predictable.

The accident gives him a bit of notoriety. One day
Barnabas Piper
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I was sad that I book I was reading ended. This was just such a book. Enger is a genius, maybe the best living novelist. His characters are the fullest, deepest, and best. They are what make his stories go - it's not what *happens*, it is what they *do* that drives the plot. And he is funny. And he is a master of subtle description. To top it all off he writes the tone and place of Minnesota so well.

I give this book 9 out of five stars.
Andrew Smith
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The set-up of this novel reminds me very much of Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool: a small town where everybody seems to know everyone else, the town itself having seen better days and a central character being a well liked man who has yet to achieve anything of significance in his life. I really loved Russo’s book and I have to say that this one doesn't suffer too much by comparison. In this instance the town is called Greenstone and is situated on the shore of Lake Superior. It was once sustained ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I enjoyed this charming, character-driven novel set in a down-yet-not-quite-out former mining/shipping town in Minnesota called Greenstone, perched on the shores of Lake Superior, near Duluth.

The main character, the eponymous Virgil Wander, is recovering from a nearly-fatal car accident that has left him slightly "different" from a head concussion. Virgil learns that many townspeople thought he had died in the horrifying accident: "The message was that I should've died, but didn't. That was the
Martie Nees Record
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Grove Press
Pub. Date: Oct. 2, 2018

The author, Leif Enger, is the winner of many awards including the 2008 Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award Honor Book for Fiction. He captures the heart of small-town life when the town has seen better days. This may be because he lives on a farm with his wife and two children in the Midwest. The title gets its name from the story’s protagonist and narrator. Virgil owns and runs the town’s only movie theater, The Empress. For th
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
Virgil Wander is the latest novel by one of my favorite writers, Leif Enger, as he brings the town of Greenstone in northern Minnesota and its ragtag and quirky group of residents to life. The town has seen the loss of mining, shipping, and many businesses causing a feeling of malaise. When we meet Virgil Wander, he is recovering in a hospital in Duluth after being rescued from Lake Superior where his car had careened from the icy and snowy highway into the frigid lake waters. Sustaining a sever ...more
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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

Articles featuring this book

Leif Enger, whose novel Peace Like a River was a national bestseller, returns this fall with Virgil Wander , the story of a small-town...
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“Memory’s oldest trick is convincing us of its accuracy.” 18 likes
“A person never knows what is next--I don't anyway. The surface of everything is thinner than we know. A person can fall right through, without any warning at all.” 16 likes
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