Homegrown Idaho songwriter Josh Ritter has always had a nose for the prose. In his tune "Thin Blue Flame" off the album The Animal Years, Ritter sings: "Caesar's ghost I saw the war-time tides / The prince of Denmark's father still and quiet / And the whole world was looking to get drowned / Trees were a fist shaking themselves at the clouds."
It should come as no surprise, then, that Ritter recently took a break from songwriting and published his first full-length fictional novel, Bright's Passage.
The story follows Henry Bright, an American soldier who has just returned to the isolated West after World War I. Following the sudden death of his young wife, Bright flees with his newborn child, which he has been told is the Future King of Heaven.
On Oprah.com, contributor Leigh Newman said, "In lesser hands, this tale might turn in to a hokey, strange religious parable" but instead, Ritter created "a work of masterful, stunning prose in which past and present inform each other--a story that reveals how we can make earthly 'devils' out of men and (perhaps) invisible 'angels' out of our need for love and protection."
Bright's Passage also found a friend in Stephen King, who said the novel "shines with a compressed lyricism that recalls Ray Bradbury in his prime."
You can hear Ritter read from his debut novel at a special event at Record Exchange on Friday, Aug. 12, at 8 p.m. You can snag two wristbands guarantying admission to the reading with the purchase of a Josh Ritter bundle for $34.99, which includes a copy of Bright's Passage and a Bright's Passage American Apparel T-shirt. You can also grab a single wristband with the purchase of Bright's Passage or any other Josh Ritter album.[ Video is no longer available. ]