This Bright River NPR coverage of This Bright River by Patrick Somerville. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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This Bright River

by Patrick Somerville

Hardcover, 453 pages, Little Brown & Co, List Price: $24.99 |


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This Bright River
Patrick Somerville

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Book Summary

Ben Hanson, a young man dealing with his cousin's death, and Lauren Sheehan, a heart-broken doctor, cross paths in their Wisconsin hometown where both have returned intent on escaping the pain and the secrets of their pasts.

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Patrick Somerville set up a real email address for his character, Ben, who he describes as "kind of a wayfaring pothead version of Will Shortz." Liv Friis-larsen/ hide caption

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Liv Friis-larsen/

Bad Book Review Sparks Fictional Friendship

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: This Bright River

We moved on.

But I'd always felt close to Wayne and thought of him as an older brother growing up, and in the years following his death I continued to think of him and wonder about him as everyone in my family tried to forget. His absence meant something unsayable about life. I knew that. I sensed that. His absence made what had been a simple formula break down. Easy division with no remainders — 16 divided by 4 — was clean. But the family shifted then, slightly. We drifted into the realm of the infinite decimal, because the introduction of unexpected horror made all things possible, clean and unclean both. I thought of him often during my last year of college when I got depressed, got detached from my friends, stopped talking to everyone I knew, made my plans to go. I lived alone that year and I stopped going out. I went to class, did my work. I would say odd things to strangers in that time. Sometimes, walking down State Street on my way to class, getting my hair cut in the barbershop I knew he used to use, entering old university buildings, holding doors and pulling and smelling the trapped air as it rushed out over my face and chest, I would wonder if my cousin had done these same things, touched these very brass handles, smelled the same molecules of air, which had been circulating through the old ducts on a loop since he had exhaled them five years before. I recalled too what now occurred to me as even stranger — I recalled that once I went to a bar and I introduced myself to the bartender as Wayne Hanson. I found it amazing that he believed me as I said this.

I missed him. It's not that complicated. Wayne seemed the better person, and I missed him.

From This Bright River: A Novel by Patrick Somerville. Copyright 2012 by Patrick Somerville. Excerpted by permission of Reagan Arthur Books.