Thursday, May 07, 2009

Peace Like A River

Earlier in the year when I listed 2009 film adaptations based on fiction, I saw that there was an adaptation for Leif Enger's novel Peace Like a River in the works.

This led me to read the freshman novel of Leif Enger, a Minnesotan author who previously was a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio.

This book has a unique appeal in that it is written with such a home-spun appeal that lends itself to fireside or rainy day reading. The book isn't gimmicky or avant garde, in fact it calls back to simple times and simple people.

Peace Like A River has a small cast of characters, that are honest and realistic. The narrator is 11 year old Rueben Land who reflects on a challenging time in his families life, the son of a poor janitor who's rich in every spiritual and emotional way. In many ways, Rueben's father, Jeremiah Land have an appeal similar to the Finch's in to Kill a Mockingbird.

Jeremiah's wife had previously abandoned her good natured husband, and three kids, and takes care of them, raising them in truth and honesty, despite each of his three children's (Davy, Ruben, Sweede).

Davy far more rebellious and independent than Rueben finds himself getting into serious trouble with the law that leads the family on their own challenging journey.

I wish their more stories like Peace Like a River. Not necessarily pastoral North American stories that re-invent the Western. No, what I wish is that more stories could develop realistic characters that are interesting and unique, without thinking that the characters needy to be girtty, edgy, and unhappy.

I think as a film, the novel Peace Like a River could certainly adapt well if handled in a manner that can transition the desolate open tone of the novel in a cinematic way. I am also excited and interested in seeing how the cast develops once production gets under way.


Amy said...

I've been meaning to read this for ages. Didn't realize it was being considered for film. Will have to bump it up. Nice review.

Loren Eaton said...

What I loved about Enger's debut was the way it subverted tradition "religious" fiction. Enger is obviously a Christian and wants to communicate his passion for it to the wider world, but he doesn't mind crafting flawed characters or delving into horrific acts of violence. The ending had me picking my jaw up off the floor.

Attila the Mom said...

Really nice review. Will look for it if it makes it to the wide-screen.

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