Review: Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter is mostly known for his music and ability to tell epic stories in a song. To me he is my absolute favorite musician but I’ve always seen him above all a storyteller and that music and lyrics are just his way to shares those stories. So I might have had especially high hopes for his debut novel but Josh Ritter has no troubles to meet those hopes in Bright’s Passage.
Bright’s Passage tells a story of a young man called Henry Bright. He has recently returned his home in West Virginia after serving in the World War I. After his young wife dies in child birth Bright is left to care for his infant son and to deal with the grief of losing his wife. The only support he has in his life is an angel who has followed him from the war and is living inside of his horse and giving Bright advice on how to live on his life and care for his newly born son.
Josh Ritter writes very beautiful and lyrical prose that brings Ray Bradbury to mind. The way Ritter has structured the book works very well, the chapters are short and they alternate between the present and flashbacks from the War and the days when Henry’s wife was still alive. The events in different times of Bright’s life reflect on each other and this kind of play with the time structure works very well in the book. The angel in a form of a horse brings a surrealistic element to the book and it makes you wonder what is real, if this is a story with a religious element or could Henry Bright be suffering from PTSD and be making up this angel to look after him.
Bright’s Passage is a short book with multiple layers, it’s the kind of book that is made to be studied and read critically. It raises many questions but doesn’t give a lot of answers. It leaves a lot for the reader to decide and that’s what I really loved about it. It’s the kind of book you can read over and over again and find different things to focus on and new meanings each time you read it. It’s definitely a surprising book, it’s not only tragic but it’s also really funny at times. The language is quite blunt yet beautiful and cinematic. I think the book would make a great film(and in my mind I would definitely cast Casey Affleck as Henry Bright). Not because the language is necessarily very descriptive but the feel of the book is so strong and real that it’s very easy to imagine Bright making his journey trough rural West Virginia or surviving in the battlefields and trenches of France.
I have a habit of underlining my favorite passages in books but with Bright’s passage every sentence was so beautiful that I just ended up dog-earing all my absolute favorite chapter. Otherwise I would have ended up underlining pretty much every sentence in the book. Bright’s Passage is not only one of my favorite books I’ve read this year but one of the greatest books I have ever read.
I have a problem.