Whatever happened to Wilder? He was a lion in his day, prized — Pulitzer-prized, as this book was — a star of stage and page. Today, notwithstanding the occasional production of Our Town or The Skin of Our Teeth, he’s ever in danger of falling out of fashion. He seems too courtly, too composed. For proof of how powerful those qualities can be, there’s this book. In 1714, “the finest bridge in all Peru” collapses and five people plunge to their deaths. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan missionary, decides to track down their individual stories to prove that even what seem to be random misfortunes are consistent with God’s plan. That his discoveries turn out to be more complex will come as no surprise. What may surprise are the beguilements of Wilder’s teasing, ironic, beautifully written tale, unlike anything else in American fiction.
Next Call It Sleep