The two principal stories at play in Wintering are bound together when the elderly, demented Harry Eide escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the forbidding, northernmost wilderness that surrounds the town of Gunflint, Minnesota--instantly changing the Eide family, and many other lives, forever. Read more...
The two principal stories at play in Wintering are bound together when the elderly, demented Harry Eide escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the forbidding, northernmost wilderness that surrounds the town of Gunflint, Minnesota--instantly changing the Eide family, and many other lives, forever. He'd done this once before, more than thirty years earlier in 1963, fleeing a crumbling marriage and bringing along Gustav, his eighteen-year-old son, pitching this audacious, potentially fatal scheme--winter already coming on, in these woods, on these waters--as a reenactment of the ancient voyageurs' journeys of discovery.
It's certainly something Gus has never forgotten, nor the Devil's Maw of a river, a variety of beloved (possibly fantastical) maps, the ice floes and waterfalls (neither especially appealing from a canoe), a magnificent bear, the endless portages, a magical abandoned shack, Thanksgiving and Christmas improvised at the far end of the earth, the brutal cold and sheer beauty of it all. And men hunting other men.
Now--with his father pronounced dead--Gus relates their adventure in vivid detail to Berit Lovig, who'd spent much of her life waiting for Harry, her passionate conviction finally fulfilled over the last two decades. So, a middle-aged man rectifying his personal history, an aging lady wrestling with her own, and with the entire saga of a town and region they'd helped to form and were in turn formed by, relentlessly and unforgettably.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Continuing the saga of the Eide family introduced in his second novel, The Lighthouse Road, Geye’s powerful third outing journeys to the frozen places in the American landscape and the human heart. One November, the elderly Harry Eide, who is suffering from dementia, vanishes into the unforgiving backcountry surrounding his home in the tiny Minnesota town of Gunflint. When his son, Gus, comes to tell Harry’s longtime love, Berit Lovig, the news, Gus also begins recounting another defining trip Harry took into the wilderness three decades earlier. In fall 1963, Harry persuaded then-18-year-old Gus to postpone college and join him on a lengthy two-man journey north into the maze of waterways at the Canadian border, where they planned to winter over like the “voyageurs of yore.” By the time the first snow fell, Gus had come to understand that the maps Harry had brought were useless and that a showdown with Charlie Aas, Gunflint’s corrupt mayor and Harry’s longtime nemesis, might be dead ahead. As Gus recalls his tale, Berit looks back to her own past, most notably with Rebekah Grimm, a Gunflint icon whose history links her to the Eides. Capturing the strength and mystery of characters who seem inextricable from the landscape, Geye’s novel is an unsentimental testament to the healing that’s possible when we confront our bleakest places. (June)
Trekking through the Minnesota wilderness
As the winter of 1963 encroaches on Gunflint, Minnesota, Harry Eide and his 18-year-old son, Gustav, set off into the wilderness in a canoe. As the two face the ice and snow, they must also confront the demons, both real and metaphorical, that follow them from Gunflint. What happens to them out in the elements is a secret father and son will share for decades.
Thirty years later, an elderly Harry—demented by the passing years—heads out again into the cold, alone this time, vanishing into the vastness that could have so easily claimed both himself and his son many winters before. When Harry is pronounced dead, a troubled Gus finally shares the story of that first wilderness trek.
Minneapolis author Peter Geye has touched on themes of family and wilderness in his previous novels, Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road, both set in Minnesota. In Wintering, Geye has woven an artfully crafted tale of the special bond between father and son, the complexity of nature—both human and otherwise—and the idea that, sometimes, one must venture out to find a way back.