You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

‘Enchanted’ an apt word when reading Rene Denfeld’s novel


Donald Ray Pollock is one of my favorite authors. The other day I noticed he had written a Facebook post which mentioned a new book that he really likes. This reviewer acted immediately, procuring a copy of “The Enchanted” by Rene Denfeld.

Pollock rarely anoints books with blurbs. He wrote one for this: “Rene Denfeld is a genius. In ‘The Enchanted,’ she has imagined one of the grimmest settings in the world — a dank and filthy death row in a corrupt prison — and given us one of the most beautiful, heartrending, and riveting novels I have ever read.”

He’s right, Denfeld’s unique story will carry readers off into a world they never could have imagined. The narrator of “The Enchanted” is a nameless convict on Death Row. He must have committed some horrible crime but we don’t know what he did. He’s mute, nobody at the prison has ever heard him speak. He was formerly allowed to leave his cell to read books in the prison library. Up there he could actually see the sky.

But not any more, something happened. Now he’s locked up 24/7 with no human contact whatsoever. The food trays slide in silently through the slot. Nobody speaks to him. He monitors the sounds emitted by prisoners, guards, and visitors out in the labyrinthine corridor.

He’s aware of that nameless lady who often visits, the death penalty investigator. Attorneys have hired her to try to find ways to obtain stays of execution for their clients. She’s looking into the past of a convicted murderer. He doesn’t appreciate her interest. He wants to die.

There are other nameless characters. The prison chaplain has his own secrets. The lady encounters him one day. He’s standing in the execution chamber. She asks him: “Do you ever think they deserve to die?” His answer: “I’m a Catholic priest,” he says with a startled laugh. “Or I was.”

There’s the warden. He believes in his work. He observes that the lady, the death penalty investigator: “is tougher than any convict, he thinks, harder than the men she frees from the row. She is more dangerous than all the killers combined because she is aware of what she does - and she chooses not to stop.”

“The Enchanted” alternates between the narrator’s viewpoint and the third person perspectives of a few of these other characters like the lady, the priest, and the warden. Our mysterious narrator lives in an enchanted world of his own creation.

He lurks inside his cell listening: “I hear them, the fallen priest and the lady. Their footsteps sound like the soft hush of rain over the stone floors. They have been talking, low and soft, their voices sliding like a river current that stops outside my cell.”

“The Enchanted” is a magical tale that seems intended to make us wonder “what does it mean to be human?” The book closes with a final sequence that is so amazing and ultimately uplifting that it is a wonder to read. You’ll want to savor the ending over and over again.

Rene Denfeld hasn’t quit her day job yet. She’s still a death penalty investigator in Oregon.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

NFL dismisses report claiming Lady Gaga can't talk Trump at Super Bowl Halftime Show
NFL dismisses report claiming Lady Gaga can't talk Trump at Super Bowl Halftime Show

Pop star Lady Gaga is weeks away from headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show, but one report says she won't be able to talk about the election or President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as president by the time of the show. According to Entertainment Tonight, citing an unnamed source, Gaga will not be allowed to talk about politics,...
SSO’s Grapes & Escapes gets a ‘Clue’
SSO’s Grapes & Escapes gets a ‘Clue’

Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com. No dinner plans for Saturday, Feb. 4? The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will gladly offer a “Clue.” The annual Grapes & Escapes fundraiser turns to colorful characters and daring detectives for its 2017 theme with a beloved board game as its inspiration — “Clue: The...
Burt Reynolds to auction replica 'Smokey and the Bandit' Trans-Am
Burt Reynolds to auction replica 'Smokey and the Bandit' Trans-Am

Remember the iconic muscle car driven by Burt Reynolds in the kitchy yet classic 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit? Who wouldn't want to own a Trans-Am just like it? Bidders will get their chance Friday at an auction in Arizona, MSN Autos reports.  A listing for the Barrett-Jackson sale in Scottsdale shows a Pro-Touring Firebird...
Report: Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump inauguration concert
Report: Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump inauguration concert

Holliday retweeted The Wrap's report on her Twitter account.In a letter addressed to "my beloved LGBT community," Holliday explained why she initially accepted the invitation to perform at the inauguration, saying she wanted to perform for the people, not for Trump. But after a vocal backlash, Holliday has decided not to perform.  According...
Children remember your words for the rest of their lives

“Parentspeak - What’s Wrong with How We Talk to Our Children — and What to Say Instead” by Jennifer Lehr (Workman, 276 pages, $14.95) We’ve all seen it. And heard it. In public places, watching parents interact with their children, what’s being said and done. Heck, maybe they were your own kids and you are evaluating...
More Stories