21 December 2008

Book Review: America America by Ethan Canin

I suppose it took me two weeks to finish reading this one. Well, I should say, this is one of the better books that I have read.

This is the first book that I have read written by Ethan Canin. Before America America, I haven’t heard of him. I suppose the best feature of the novel was the way things were presented to the reader. The narration is definitely non-linear: the main story happens during 1971, but the story is told through the eyes of Corey Sifter, after attending the funeral of a certain senator, in 2006. Back in 1971, Corey was just a teenage boy, but the story revolves around him. There are also some snippets of information that occurs between those two time periods.

This is not a suspense or thriller novel, but the author has successfully made the reader turn the page, at least for me. The prose is very easy on the eyes, and the revelation of information has good pace. Case in point: early on the first half of the book, it is revealed that the older Corey has a wife, and three daughters. The name of the wife is not revealed until it was needed. As the story was being developed, Corey gets to like Christian, who has a sister named Clara. When Corey goes to college, he dates Holly. However, later on it was revealed that he marries Clara instead.

I guess this is one of those novels that would make an epic movie. There were a few omissions, however, given the fact that it was set in 1971, but there were absolutely no references about the anti-war protests. As some other reviewers have said, Corey seemed to be in a bubble, his life revolving around Aberdeen West and the Metarey family. However, I think omitting those would be the perfect choice. Otherwise, the novel would have a lot of clutter. This is one example of a novel that I think, only writes what is supposed to be written. Every chapter and every character and every event has a purpose in the grand structure of things. Overall, it is a good read. A good depiction of upper-class America and the scandals that loom in the shadows of politicians.

See my other book reviews here.

(Half-Dome Stage, from my Arlington Cemetery Series)

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