Speaking with the angels
Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has built a following on the strength of his literary song lyrics, which tackle such subjects as the parallels between science and relationships, the difficulties of love in an apocalyptic age and the beauty of relying on people close to you. With his debut novel, Bright’s Passage, Ritter shows that his range extends well beyond the three-minute pop song. He takes full advantage of the near-limitless bounds of the novel in this post-World War I tale, drawing contrast between a stark landscape filled with people in war scenes and a lush countryside and the lonely man who roams it after the war.
After veteran Henry Bright delivers his son and watches his wife die in childbirth, he begins a journey across the Appalachian terrain of West Virginia. An angel who followed Henry home from war and now speaks through his horse instructs him to burn his house and leave before his neighbor can follow his tracks.
The reader gains insight into Henry’s life as chapters cut between his past in West Virginia, the war and his race from the neighbor and the burning house, which instigates a wildfire. It quickly becomes evident that Henry isn’t only recovering from seeing friends die in the Great War; he’s also facing family battles and an internal struggle. Ritter allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Henry’s heavenly interaction, and this psychologically engaging tale will keep readers thinking for days after they close the book.
Read an interview with Josh Ritter about Bright's Passage.