This Bright River and me
Tomorrow is the release date for This Bright River, the new novel by Chicago author Patrick Somerville. It is a ceaselessly engaging book, often brutally so. It wears its Midwestern roots and themes proudly, taking place mostly in rural Wisconsin and featuring characters returning home to understand their own lives and the lives of their family. I’ve read it, and I loved it. And I’m not just saying that because I helped write it.
Well, I wrote one page of it.
Puzzles play a big part in the book and in the life of the protagonist Ben. He used to make them, and during the book he spends much of his time unravelling a real-life one. I worked with Patrick to compose an original puzzle that appears halfway through the book. It’s a good one. And because Patrick is a bastard, he gives no answer, leaving it up to you to solve it. So far, he tells me, no one has come close.
Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some really smart critics have to say:
“A remarkable achievement…[This Bright River] is a stellar, bruising book about how place forms character and our capacity to transform ourselves.”
- Chicago Tribune
Part love story, part murder mystery, part mediation on violence, part exploration of what home can and should mean, this novel roams wide and far, in terms of its story and even its geography.
- O Magazine
Somerville has a gift for spurring dialogue, and the meandering narrative tributaries he explores stoke our curiosity and build suspense
Somerville is after something grand here, using nonlinear storytelling and shifting points of view to investigate elusive truths and to explore the nature of both delusion and evil.
- Time Out New York
There’s a release party for This Bright River tomorrow at the Book Cellar in Chicago. I won’t be there, but some of my puzzles will be — Patrick will be using them to give away a few free copies of the book. Stop by, meet the author, solve a puzzle, and win a book.