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Bright’s Passage

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“Shines with a compressed lyricism that recalls Ray Bradbury in his prime . . . This is the work of a gifted novelist.”
— Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

“[An] eloquent and intensely moving historical novel . . . a work of masterful, stunning prose.”

Henry Bright has newly returned to West Virginia from the battlefields of the First World War. Griefstruck by the death of his young wife and unsure of how to care for the infant son she left behind, Bright is soon confronted by the destruction of the only home he’s ever known. His hopes for safety rest with the angel who has followed him to Appalachia from the trenches of France and who now promises to protect him and his son. Haunted by the abiding nightmare of his experiences in the war and shadowed by his dead wife’s father, the Colonel, and his two brutal sons, Bright— along with his newborn— makes his way through a ravaged landscape toward an uncertain salvation.

“Displays Ritter’s abundant lyrical gifts . . . Rich in metaphor and surprising moments of humor . . . a dark parable in the southern Gothic tradition of Cormac McCarthy.” — The Boston Globe

“Intensely beautiful, tragic and also funny . . . a rich, beautiful story with shape: Bright’s Passage has a powerful end.” — Los Angeles Times

“A charming, sweet and highly readable novel . . . [Ritter’s] imagery is bold, tantalizing.” — Associated Press

“Propelled by short chapters that read like powerful vignettes, all of which lead to a final confrontation as haunting as any ballad Ritter could have written.” — San Francisco Chronicle


6-CD set iTunes Audible

The FIVE ANGELS music disc is only available on the 6-CD set.

Bright’s Passage is also available on audiobook!

Josh reads the entire novel on the limited edition 6-CD set with an accompanying score composed by Royal City Band bassist Zachariah Hickman. The package also includes a bonus music disc, FIVE ANGELS, featuring Josh, Chris Thile, Tift Merritt, and Josh Kaufman performing five songs about angels live at the Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn. It includes the previously unreleased song “One Step Down.”

A note from Josh on the audiobook:

I’ve been listening to audio books ever since I was a child. Thrillers, classics, sci-fi, history, mystery, bodice-rippers, seat-grippers, swash-bucklers, hard-boilers, noir, fantasy, short stories, pop-psychs, biographies, hagiographies and travelogues, if I could get my hands on a recorded book, I devoured it.

Maybe it goes back to the cavemen telling stories around a fire. Maybe it has something to do with the way my parents read to my brother and me when we were small. Maybe it’s just about wanting to close my eyes and have the world of the story wash over me. Maybe it’s all those things. As I’ve gotten older my audio book habit has grown to the point where I’ll probably listen to twenty of them year in addition to my music and reading habit.

One of the most exciting things about publishing Bright’s Passage was realizing that I could record the audio book if I wanted to. So, this past February, I flew to Detroit and did just that.

To accompany my (stellar) narration, Zack Hickman wrote a beautiful, heartbreaking score. I also collected five songs that I’ve written involving angels and recorded them with my friends Chris Thile, Tift Merritt and Josh Kaufman.

Writing Bright’s Passage was so exciting and entertaining and fun. Getting to record it as an audio book has only added to that adventure. I hope you enjoy it!