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 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 allows him to fold two ...
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