A stunning novel, set in a small town during the Nixon era and today, about America and family, politics and tragedy, and the impact of fate on a young mans life.
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.
From Chapter I
When youve been involved in something like this, no matter how long ago it happened, no matter how long its been absent from the news, youre fated, nonetheless, to always search it out. To be on alert for it, somehow, every day of your life. For the small item at the back of the newspaper. For the stranger at the cocktail party or the unfamiliar letter in the mailbox. For the reckoning pause on the other end of the phone line. For the dreadful reappearance of something that, in all likelihood, is never going to return.
I wouldnt have thought, in fact, that I would be the one to bring it back now, after all this time. That I would be the one to finally try to explain it. What I know of it, at least, even if thats only a part. I can only guess at the other parts. But Ive been guessing at them for half my life now, and I think Ive made some sense of it.
Honestly I dont know what will come of thiswho ...
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).
Full Review (801 words).
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." ...
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