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.