Bright’s Passage: Slipping Toward Josh Ritter’s Light

After learning about Josh Ritter’s debut novel, Bright’s Passage, from a versatile blogger, I simply had to crack it open. I read comments like “lyrical allure” and couldn’t resist.

I wasn’t disappointed. The eye and the mind slide through Ritter’s musical prose with ease, reserving plenty of room in the noggin for scene painting, theological wondering, and bittersweet entertainment. I caught glimpses of Herod the Great and his vicarious slaughter, a sacrificial she-goat altar, Joseph the Worker’s dream vs. reality struggles, and the type of rich-blood cousin breeding that gives West Virginia its [mythical, I think] reputation. I found the main character’s old-fashioned mining mindset endearing, particularly when paired with Ritter’s old-fashioned, comfort-food phrasing.

Josh Ritter’s view on editing is indicative of the pain that many writers feel, particularly when they find themselves cleaving to their work, rather than writing stories that will cleave to readers. His words offer hope for aspiring authors and highlight the importance of criticism. Read them here. Ritter has received some criticism for Bright’s Passage, but his healthy view of the red pen can only mean that subsequent efforts will be nothing short of brilliant.

I can only hope that this isn’t Josh Ritter’s last novel. If he offers more reading material like Bright’s Passage, I’ll be one of the first in line to jump on and hurtle toward the light.

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3 responses to “Bright’s Passage: Slipping Toward Josh Ritter’s Light

  1. I’d not heard of this book until just a few days ago, when I read your excellent — and excellently written — review. So I bought it. I’m waiting for it to arrive and I’m looking forward to sliding with ease through the musical prose.

    Speaking of which, “Love in a Snow Globe” was beautifully written.

  2. All the years I spent writing that book didn’t come close to preparing me for how spectacularly grateful I’d feel toward those who take the time to read it — and I mean that very sincerely.

    The idea for that book came about in response to Dostoevsky’s famous pronouncement: without God, all things are permissible.

    In many ways the theme is whether or not morality can exist if there is no God or gods. And as a corollary of that: philosophy matters.

    On a symbolic level — and at the risk of over-glossing — as the novel progresses Joel’s father comes more and more to represent God the father, and Joel’s mother comes more and more to represent the Spirit of Truth.

    Thank you very much for reading. I know it’s not an easy read, but hang in there: the darkness lifts.

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