Bright's Passage, Josh Ritter

I’ve long been a fan of Josh Ritter’s music; I return to the epic “Thin Blue Flame” (video embedded below) again and again for comfort, for fortification. His lyrics invoke fantastic images and often weave story into the song. (“The Temptation of Adam,” “To the Dogs or Whoever,” and “Harrisburg” should give you a sense of some of this.) And so I was rather excited to pick up his novel, Bright’s Passage, and see how that translated across media.

The short novel tells of Henry Bright, a West Virginia boy back from World War I, an angel in tow, his first child just born. It’s odd, and upon finishing, I’m not quite sure what to make of it; I want more, more of Henry, more of the angel, more of the villainous Colonel and his motivations. Perhaps it’s better to leave a reader intrigued and grasping, rather than utterly disgusted; and, it’s true, the glinting language is enough that I would pick up another book if Ritter wrote one.