Summary and book reviews of The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst

The Webster Chronicle

by Daniel Akst

The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst X
The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Akst gives readers another sharp and perceptive look at modern America as he deftly describes a community helpless in the face of mass hysteria and mass media.

Terry Mathers feels like a failure. His small-town weekly, The Webster Chronicle, is facing bankruptcy; he has separated from his wife; and his journalist father, Maury, is both the king of prime time and a magnet for younger women. Now in midlife, Terry's fed up with being disappointed---and disappointing.

But then Webster is shocked by an accusation of child abuse at the local, and highly esteemed, preschool. As the community grapples with rapidly escalating allegations, Terry seizes his chance to scoop the national media. His articles fan the flames of the growing crisis, and as the major news organizations descend, he struggles to maintain his professional judgment and ethics.

The Washington Post called Daniel Akst's first novel, St. Burl's Obituary, an "ingenious and thought-provoking . . . map of the contemporary world." With The Webster Chronicle, Akst gives readers another sharp and perceptive look at modern America, using as his backdrop a dark period in our country's early history. He deftly describes a community helpless in the face of mass hysteria and mass media, and guided by hapless, awkward Terry Mathers, who believes he's on a mission to save the children until he realizes, too late, that he's really only trying to save himself.

Chapter One

Anniversaries are important to journalists, and so it was that on this, the fifth anniversary of his less-than-triumphant return to the town of his boyhood, Terry Mathers prepared himself for the ordeal of the night ahead by single-handedly smoking a reefer of Rastafarian proportions and heading hatless out into the night.

His destination filled him with dread. The YM-YWCA in Webster was near the former railroad station and just down from the old post office but distinguished itself from the other two by clinging even more tenaciously to what was left of its tattered dignity. Burdened by its Oz-like yellow brick and gewgaws and its redolently old-fashioned name, so suggestive of salvation and temperance and lye soap, the former Young Men’s Christian Association (the words were carved with embarrassing permanence above the lintel) was bent now on rescuing itself from the downtown seediness in which it had joined so many of its counterparts in more significant ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. In The Webster Chronicle, it is unclear whether Belinda Jackson is telling the whole truth about the reason for her daughter's death in the car wreck. Is her daughter's confession of child abuse the real reason for Belinda's crash, or was she just another drunk driver who killed an innocent person?

     
  2. Since the first allegations of child abuse at Alphabet Soup came from Belinda Jackson and Lucille Lyttle, the first of which killed her daughter while driving drunk, and the second of which is an alcoholic who is loyal to Belinda, what are your first reactions to these allegations? Especially considering the conflicting evidence which might support allegations of child abuse: that Frank and ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A molestation incident in the day-care facility of a small town sends the community spinning out of control in Akst's complex, thought-provoking follow-up to his raucous, over-the-top debut.

Booklist
Akst vividly illustrates the rocky road from ethical journalism to tabloid sensationalism by showing how isolated accusations can be fed and regurgitated as fact to a hungry and otherwise bored public.

Library Journal - Karen Traynor
Akst's second novel promises to garner the same respect as his first, St. Burl's Obituary....Akst, a columnist for the Sunday New York Times, uses bold and descriptive language to tell a story that takes unexpected twists and turns. Even in small towns, people are perhaps not what they seem.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Webster Chronicle, try these:

  • The Saints and Sinners of Okay County jacket

    The Saints and Sinners of Okay County

    by Dayna Dunbar

    Published 2005

    About this book

    A funny and poignant first novel about a woman struggling to liberate herself in small-town America.

  • White Male Infant jacket

    White Male Infant

    by Barbara D'Amato

    Published 2003

    About this book

    More books by this author

    McSweeny and his wife dearly love their adopted Russian son - but when medical tests indicate that the boy is not Russian they are plunged into the dark, complex world of international adoption. The results threaten to destroy their happiness - and their lives - as they explode a powder keg of political intrigue.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Girl is A Body of Water
    A Girl is A Body of Water
    by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
    First Impressions readers were fascinated by A Girl Is a Body of Water, a riveting and nuanced novel...
  • Book Jacket
    Heaven, My Home
    by Attica Locke
    Attica Locke's 2017 novel Bluebird, Bluebird introduced us to Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, who ...
  • Book Jacket: Transcendent Kingdom
    Transcendent Kingdom
    by Yaa Gyasi
    Yaa Gyasi's (pronounced "yah jessie") Transcendent Kingdom is, among other things, a meditation on ...
  • Book Jacket: We Are Not Free
    We Are Not Free
    by Traci Chee
    Author Traci Chee is best known for her young adult fantasy trilogy, The Reader series. We Are Not ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke

    A new novel from the NY Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste

An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.