Carl's Reviews > Bright's Passage

Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter
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's review
Sep 25, 2011

liked it

Disclosure: I like his songs. And I assume that like many others, I might not have read this if I didn’t. So, we’re pre-disposed to like it, but anxious we may not, and non-fans may be skeptical of our reviews.
More like a novella, it relates the story of Henry Bright’s childhood, and his and mother’s relationship with “the Colonel” and his family, Bright’s time in WWI, and after his return to Appalachia. That part includes marrying the Colonel’s daughter, her death in childbirth, and his efforts to outrun the Colonel and his sons, as well as the fire Bright started, on the command of his supposed guardian Angel, who protected him in the trenches, and now is dictating (via his horse) Bright’s course of action.
Weird? yes. Ambiguous? yes. Too much so to be the “parable” some reviewers call it.
Satisfying? Not quite. Certainly the characters could have been fleshed out more. Bright’s wife? Somewhat of a cypher, after the descriptions of her childhood. The Colonel? simply mean and nasty? or just as confusedly PTSD as Bright?
Still, an engaging story (or stories), even if the horrors of WWI have been described many times before. Too brief to get bogged down.

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