Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. New Directions is excited to reissue the Gardner classics, beginning with October Light, a complex relationship rendered in a down-to-earth narrative.
October Light is one of John Gardner's masterworks. The penniless widow of a once-wealthy dentist, Sally Abbot now lives in the Vermont farmhouse of her older brother, 72-year-old James Page. Polar opposites in nearly every way, their clash of values turns a bitter corner when the exacting and resolute James takes a shotgun to his sister's color television set. After he locks Sally up in her room with the trashy "blockbuster" novel that has consumed her (and only apples to eat), the novel-within-the-novel becomes an echo chamber providing glimpses into the history of the family that spawned these bizarre, sad, and stubborn people. Gardner uses the turbulent siblings as a stepping-off point from which he expands upon the lives of their extended families, and the rural community that surrounds them. He also engages larger issues of how liberals and conservatives define themselves, and considers those moments when life transcends all their arguments.
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Often times, characters or the narration would go on digressions about various topics, probably for thematic reasons. I personally think they were overused.
I did like learning about James and Sally and their family history. And there were some moments I found funny, such as the end of the insert story or James' "We'll see about that!"
Least interesting was the above-mentioned digressions.
They were all well acted. If I had to choose one, it would be cranky old James Page.
Yes. Don't misunderstand me, I think this book would make a horrible movie. I'd go to the theater just for the end of "Smugglers of Lost Souls' Rock."
This is a story without much movement. If you like your books fast-paced, I can't recommend this one.
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