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.
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.