Saturday, January 03, 2009

Start off the year with a good book

If you're looking for a terrific book to dive into to get you through the post-holiday blahs, I've got just the book for you. It's America America by Ethan Canin, and it's well worth your time.

I picked this up off of the new book shelf at the library a week ago, and was immersed immediately. The novel tells the story of a journalist who, upon the death of a prominent senator, reflects back on his youth working for a wealthy man who played a big role in promoting the senator's career. The novel was reminiscent of Great Gatsby -- innocent ordinary man getting an inside look at the life of privilege -- and there are many overtones of the Ted Kennedy/Chappaquiddick scandal. The story touches on the nature of father/son relationships, and loyalty, and innocence, and politics, and idealism. All of this -- and it's beautifully written.

There's another aspect of this novel that I loved -- the sense of layers of events, and how one can live through something at one point in one's life, and only later look back and understand that very different things were going on under the surface. Canin conveys that so well in this story.

This is the sort of novel you'll want to sink into with a cup of coffee at your side and a bit of time to dive in. It's not superficial or straight forward... but that's exactly what I liked about it. I was sorry to see it end.

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