As the winter of 1963 encroaches on Gunflint, Minnesota, Harry Eide and his 18-year-old son, Gustav, set off into the wilderness in a canoe. As the two face the ice and snow, they must also confront the demons, both real and metaphorical, that follow them from Gunflint. What happens to them out in the elements is a secret father and son will share for decades.
Thirty years later, an elderly Harry—demented by the passing years—heads out again into the cold, alone this time, vanishing into the vastness that could have so easily claimed both himself and his son many winters before. When Harry is pronounced dead, a troubled Gus finally shares the story of that first wilderness trek.
Minneapolis author Peter Geye has touched on themes of family and wilderness in his previous novels, Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road, both set in Minnesota. In Wintering, Geye has woven an artfully crafted tale of the special bond between father and son, the complexity of nature—both human and otherwise—and the idea that, sometimes, one must venture out to find a way back.