is a great read but a worrisome think, if
I may coin a phrase. Ethan Canin writes in the storytelling tradition of Richard
Russo: a slow, detailed, fully realized, and gratifying portrait of small-town
America. Yet his uncritical, almost adoring
tale of wealth and power
bothered me, and I wondered why this novel is being promoted so heavily at this
moment in time.
is masterfully plotted. Canin takes a linear storythe rise and
fall of a powerful familyand twists it into a mobius strip. He immerses his
reader in the past, but then continually interrupts that immersion, returning to the
present moment of narration in order to give a retrospective
viewpoint. This allows him to draw out a familiar story, making the reader feel
like an insider because of how much she knows without being told. It also...
Beyond the Book
The 1972 Democratic Nomination
Senator Henry Bonwiller, the presidential candidate to whom Liam Metarey acts
as closest advisor, is fictional, but the rest of the details of the 1972
Democratic nomination battle are true.
The field was crowded with menand two womenvying to challenge President
Nixon's re-election effort. Nixon was seen as vulnerable because of the abysmal
state of the Vietnam War. Senator Ed Muskie from Maine was the party
establishment's choice, but his campaign fizzled when a supposedly forged letter
to the Manchester Union Leader
claimed that he was prejudiced against
Americans of French-Canadian descent. Muskie refuted the charges in what has
since become known as "the crying speech." Several news outlets...