Synopses & Reviews
Unaware that his life is about to change in ways he can't imagine, seventeen-year-old Jesse Matson ventures into the northern Minnesota woods with his father on a cold November afternoon. Perched on individual hunting stands a quarter-mile apart, they wait with their rifles for white-tailed deer. When the muffled crack of a gunshot rings out, Jesse unaccountably knows something is wrong-and he races through the trees to find his dad dead of a rifle wound, apparently self-inflicted.
But would easygoing Harold Matson really kill himself? If so, why?
Haunted by the ghost of his father, Jesse delves into family secrets, wrestles with questions of justice and retribution, and confronts the nature of his own responsibility. And just when he's decided that he alone must shoulder his family's burden, the beautiful and troubled Christine Montez enters his life, forcing him to reconsider his plans.
In spare, elegant prose, Lin Enger tells the story of a young man trying to hold his family together in a world tipped suddenly upside down. Set among pristine lakes and beneath towering pines, Undiscovered Country is at once a bold reinvention of Shakespeare's Hamlet and a hair-bristling story of betrayal, revenge, and the possibilities of forgiveness.
"With flashes of prose as crisp and haunting as the frozen Minnesota setting, Enger's debut opens 10 years after Jesse Matson's father's alleged suicide, as 17-year-old Jesse sits down to write his own version of events. While hunting with his father in the woods surrounding their hometown of Battlepoint, Minn., the young Jesse hears a shot and finds his father dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Adamant that his father could never take his own life, Jesse determines to uncover the truth. While his mother, Genevieve, retreats to her room and his younger brother, Magnus, looks to him for reassurance, Jesse becomes convinced that his uncle Clay actually killed his father. Despite a lack of evidence or support from law enforcement, Jesse hatches a plan to avenge his father's death, bolstered by his deepening relationship with a girl who has plenty of problems of her own. Allusions to Hamlet and Hemingway's In Our Time (Jesse reads both in school) do a little too much foreshadowing, but the landscape is beautifully rendered, and Jesse's confusion is palpable. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Enger tightens the emotional screws...through stark, visceral descriptions of Jesse's trauma." Booklist
"The obvious parallels with Shakespeare's play are even acknowledged by some of the characters, but Enger doesn't let this conceit overwhelm the story. He skillfully draws a portrait of small-town life and all its barely concealed secrets." Library Journal
"Lin Enger's first novel brings the heft of Shakespearean drama to the north woods of Minnesota
. In a cleanly-elegant narrative, Enger weaves a winter's tale of betrayal and ghosts, of one son's debt to his father and the wages of vengeance. For the reader, Undiscovered Country
is the best kind of discovery-a riveting first novel that's a genuine page turner, and an author whose work bears watching."--Claire Davis, author of Winter Range
"[The] combination of gritty realism and poetic landscape portraiture...create a new story of betrayal, adolescent confusion and loyalty."
--Valerie Ryan, Seattle Times
While hunting in the cold northern Minnesota woods, seventeen-year-old Jesse Matson's life is forever changed when he discovers his father, dead by a self-inflicted rifle wound to the head.
But would easygoing Harold Matson really kill himself? If so, why? And just where was Jesse's uncle Clay always jealous of Harold, and a bit too friendly with Jesse's mother that cold afternoon?
Haunted by the ghost of his father, Jesse searches deeper into the secrets his family holds, and must decide what he will and will not take into his own hands. Written with a simple elegance, Undiscovered Country is a hair-bristling story of betrayal, revenge, and the possibilities of forgiveness and the riveting portrait of a young man trying to hold his family together in a world tipped suddenly upside down.
While hunting in the cold Minnesota woods, 17-year-old Jesse Matson's life is forever changed when he discovers his father, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Written with a simple elegance, this work is a hair-bristling story of betrayal, revenge, and the possibilities of forgiveness.
About the Author
Lin Enger is the MFA director at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.