As Lin Enger’s The High Divide opens, it’s 1886 and Ulysses Pope has been missing for six weeks. A civil war veteran who also fought in the Indian wars, Ulysses left his wife and two sons behind on the far edge of Minnesota’s western prairie with only a brief note and no explanation of why he left and where he’s heading.
Ulysses' 16-year-old son, Eli, intercepts a letter from a woman in Bismarck, suggesting that his father had recently visited her. In a quest to find Ulysses, Eli attempts to sneak out in the middle of the night but is followed by his younger, sickly 9-year-old brother, Danny. Together they hop a freight train and travel west across Dakota Territory. Once their mother, Gretta, realizes her sons are gone, she embarks on her own travels to find out what happened to her husband and sons.
Lin Enger teaches at Minnesota State University in Moorhead. He’s an Iowa Workshop graduate and the author of the novel Undiscovered County. Enger joined the Dakota Midday Book Club for a discussion of The High Divide.