Yet another book which I received as part of LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program.
This one, I can enthusiastically endorse.
Canin spans early 1970s through post 9/11 America, or more specifically western New York. But not as much the economically depressed western New York of Richard Russo novels (although it does play a role), as the wealthy, powerful, politically connected New York State which factors into national presidential elections.
Canin plays out his story in jumps and starts, switching between three periods in the life of our protagonist, Corey Sifter, his high school years, his college years and his present day. As we move between these three spans, Canin parcels out tidbits which in the end allows the protagonist and the reader to fashion a likely solution to the central puzzle of the novel.
Canin is often oblique in his development of the narrative but this refusal to lay it all out for the reader works to emphasize Corey’s journey from impressionable young yard boy to powerful newspaper publisher.
Altogether, a gripping, thoroughly enjoyable novel about politics, power, noblesse oblige and tragedy.
From the back cover:
From Ethan Canin, bestselling author of The Palace Thief, comes 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 man’s 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 family’s 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.
About the Author
Ethan Canin is the author of six books of fiction, including the story collections, Emperor of the Air and The Palace Thief, and the novels For Kings and Planets and Carry Me Across the Water. He is on the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Iowa, California, and northern Michigan.
By Bridget, from the ethernet archives