Again, John Grisham proves himself among the great storytellers in American literature. CAMINO ISLAND fits the bill for a wonderful summer read and Grisham leaves the lawyers behind and writes of authors, writers and the theft of the original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from their safekeeping at Princeton University. He is so compelling in his prose, of course, you believe it may have actually happened.
And so the story begins and the twists and turns roll through the pages. As is my custom, I will allow you to discover the conclusion. The good news is that the novel m,reads so well you will arrive at the finish in four sittings or less.
A refreshing good read, An enjoyable break from some heavier selections on your summer list.
The Great Gatsby, the book and the movie raised my awareness of another pre- Great Depression Era based novel, Ragtime, by E.L.Doctorow. Written in 1974, long after F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, Doctorow authored this wonderful novel that with great energy combines reality and fiction , historical figures and imaginary role players, painting a potent landscape of society and social change just before the great war. Doctorow’s images of place and the developing social issues of the decade resonate to this day. The read is total narrative, no dialogue.
Think of this. J.P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, Booker T. Washington, Sanford White, Harry Thaw, Evelyn Nesbit established in their historical stations, interact with Doctorow’s fictional creations of ragtime pianist Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Tateh, an immigrant Jewish peddler, Sarah, a black single mother, and an affluent and typical suburban American Family living in the comfort of New Rochelle, New York. Doctorow blends this cross-section of humanity in a wildly thrilling story, set in Westchester and Manhattan during the period just prior to World War I
E.L. Doctorow has written a long list of outstanding works including Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel and The March. All are most deserving of their many honors and outstanding reviews. It is always a good idea to check back in with authors whom you have enjoyed. In Doctorow’s case the list is full of great choices.
Amor Towles debut novel Rules of Civility captures the rules of New York and places George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility in the Appendix where they rightfully belong! This read is a love relationship with New York, a city that authors its own rules!
What could be more compelling? The earnest daughter of hard-working Russian immigrants born and raised on the Lower East Side. A near-do-well wanna-be who will do anything to be accepted and regain lost riches. A sweet and adventurous mid-western transplant. The swells of the Upper East Side trust fund gang, a hard charging publisher and of course “ladies who lunch .” The players are all there and their personalities explode in a wonderful page-turning story set in the post depression era of the late 1930s. New York is bouncing back, regaining its lost energy, wealth, world status and rebuilding with money, music, bricks, mortar and unlimited opportunity for those willing to dare a ride on a rainbow.
The book’s intimacy with New York is reminicent of Pete Hamill’s Downtown and Tabloid City. There is a hint of F. Scott Fitzgerald and even a flash of Hemingway. ” By nine o-clock the restaurant would feel like the center of the universe.” The 21 Club, the village jazz clubs before red velvet rope lines, the big bands, the after swing parties and the glorious and transparent lives of trust fund swells of the Upper East Side and Oyster Bay. Towles builds characters who are looking out, looking in and some who don’t give a damn about all the action swirling around them. Falling in and out of love with intimacy left to the imigination.
Rules of Civility is a New Yorker’s book but just like the city, it is there for the enjoyment of anyone willing to seize the moment. This is a very, very good first novel which may well have a movie running through its veins.
Simply said, enjoy!