In the early 1970s, Corey Sifter, the son of working-class parents, becomes a yard boy on the grand estate of the powerful Metarey family. Soon, through the familys generosity, he is a student at a private boarding school and an aide to the great New York senator Henry Bonwiller, who is running for president of the United States. Before long, Corey finds himself involved with one of the Metarey daughters as well, and he begins to leave behind the world of his upbringing. As the Bonwiller campaign gains momentum, Corey finds himself caught up in a complex web of events in which loyalty, politics, sex, and gratitude conflict with morality, love, and the truth.
America America is a beautiful novel about America as it was and is, a remarkable exploration of how vanity, greatness, and tragedy combine to change history and fate.
America America 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 ....
The novel is filled with graceful moments .... but falls short in its delineation of its characters.
With his narrator and protagonist, Canin has written himself into a bind. On the
one hand, Corey Sifter must be Everyman ....On the other
hand, Corey must himself be extraordinary in order to justify his inclusion in
the family and his presence at nearly every important moment in their lives. Too
often, Canin resorts to ham-handed ways of conveying character .... (Reviewed by Amy Reading).
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
There are some wonderful, deeply affecting moments here ... but they are unfortunately submerged in a bloated, maladroit narrative that relies on clumsily withheld secrets for suspense and that encumbers the story of Corey's coming-of-age with ponderous and unconvincing meditations on matters like noblesse oblige, the responsibilities of privilege and working-class resentment of the rich.
Entertainment Weekly - Tina Jordan
The beginning of June heralds the arrival of the fat summer read, meant for the porch, the hammock, the beach. Ethan Canin's America America is just such a book, the satisfying, compulsively readable saga of a northeastern coal dynasty. B+
We’ve waited a long time for a worthy successor to Robert Penn Warren’s All the King's Men, and it couldn't have arrived at a more auspicious moment.
Canin gives us a poisoned lullaby of the Nixon era.
The rhythms of a great estate, and the dynamics of a landowning family, are captured with Tolstoyan exactitude. It's the journey, not the arrival, that matters, and the journey is an enthralling one.
Los Angeles Times
A big, ambitious, old-fashioned, quintessentially American novel about politics, power, ambition, class, ethics and loyalty… Bravo to Canin for tackling the American Dream, which we're forever running off the road and then trying to resuscitate.
This saga of politics and family is a superb achievement; Canin..interleaves past and present to create a classical tragedy from the very first page.
The Independent - James Urquhart America, America is a big, exhilarating novel in many ways, but it's the primacy of emotion dominating the personal sphere that holds most interest. By late middle age, Corey's philosophical engagement with his comfortable surroundings strongly resembles the buoyant introspections of Frank Bascombe, the realtor negotiating smalltown American life in Richard Ford's epic Sportswriter trilogy.
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 reported that he
broke down in tears during the speech. Muskie denied that he wept, but the
damage to his persona was done. This incident appears in America America
as the opening for Senator Bonwiller to steal his party's affections. In real
life, Senator George McGovern from South...
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