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Book Notes: Ritter hits perfect note with his debut novel

Josh Ritter is a first-time novelist with a well-known name.

Ritter is the singer-songwriter, originally from Moscow, Idaho, who has a great national following for his well-crafted, literate songs.

So now Ritter the wordsmith has turned his hand to a new craft with his debut novel, “Bright’s Passage” (Dial Press, $22).

It’s the story of a young man returning home after World War I. The story includes an angel and a talking horse. Actually, horse and angel are one and the same.

The novel was just released on Tuesday and is already getting praise from some well-known literary names. Dennis Lehane calls it “heartbreaking and luminous.”

Los Angeles Times critic Carolyn Kellogg deems it “intensely beautiful, tragic and also funny.”

She writes that Ritter said the idea first started out as a song, but it “wanted to be more.”

“He knows how to build a rich, beautiful story with shape,” writes Kellogg.

Looks like our region might have a new homegrown literary star. By the way, you can experience Ritter’s musical side at his Festival at Sandpoint concert Aug. 11.

Nesbitt’s world domination

Spokane children’s author Kenn Nesbitt has just released a subversively entertaining new book, “The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World” (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99).

What kid doesn’t seek world domination?

This book, aimed at ages 9-12, will teach you how to become a genius overnight, equip your underground lair and recruit minions.

It will even tell you how to blow up the moon (first step: sneaking into NASA late at night) and how to create a black hole (sneak into a subatomic accelerator in Switzerland).

Or, you can learn to create a mutant virus that causes kittens to go insane and turn into “flesh-eating zombie kittens.”

Nesbitt’s clever prose on such subjects is accompanied by funny illustrations by Ethan Long.

Buy the kid in your life a copy and stand back.

‘Open Spaces’

A new collection of essays titled “Open Spaces: Voices From the Northwest” (University of Washington Press, $22.50) is dedicated to creating new ways to think about public issues and land in the Northwest.

As well as new ways of thinking about the Northwest’s spirit.

It features essays from some familiar literary names, including William Kittredge, David James Duncan and Kim Stafford. There also are some non-literary names, including William Ruckelshaus, former boss of the EPA and the FBI, and former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

It’s available at bookstores and online.