Leif Enger on the bass and an approaching philosophical famine

We’re so thrilled that Leif Enger will join us for this year’s Opus & Olives as emcee. In preparation for the big event, we asked Leif a couple questions to help fans get to know him better. This is an #opusexclusive.

Tell us something that people might now know about you.

I play the electric bass, happily and not very well. My brother-in-law is a pastor and guitarist who acquired his considerable chops in the folk-music coffeehouses of the 1960s – when he needed a Sunday morning bass player I gave it a shot, and stayed for 15 years. It was enormous fun, and I’ll never forget Mike’s Hippocratic advice on how to play in a small band with other volunteers: First, do no harm.

Tell us what you love about libraries.

A couple years ago I was talking to my novelist brother about a phenomenon that had struck us both simultaneously: we were buying books at a faster clip than ever before. Used books, new books, trade paper and hardcover, novels and histories – “Can’t help myself,” Lin said. “I’m buying more books than I could read in a century.” In the rabbit-hole nature of late-night conversations we began to wonder what this tendency meant – whether we sensed some approaching catastrophe or philosophical famine, and were laying in stores of imagination and language like a squirrel caching acorns before a long winter. Who knows? But I certainly think of libraries, from the vast to the tiny, as our canniest defense – inviting us all, the curious, the desperate, and the bored, putting books in our hands and ideas in our heads, in roomy surroundings where civility is assured and quiet is not suspect. What could be more appealing? Why, it’s as if the very institution were designed to ensure our resilience, our survival and – if we keep our eyes peeled – our advance.


Meet Leif and the rest of our bestselling lineup in person on October 14 at the RiverCentre in downtown Saint Paul!