Showing posts from November, 2010

That Old Cape Magic

Richard Russo hasn't been a regular for me like he is for some academics.  I read Straight Man on the recommendation of a grad school friend, and it was enjoyable, funny enough and sad at times, but it didn't make me a Russo fan. That Old Cape Magic is softer, less hard-edged and more forgiving.  The story begins with a narrator who can't precisely explain why he's reflecting on his east-coast life as a professor and his 34-year marriage.  We slowly learn that he's hauling his father's ashes around, and that his father's death was recent.  This is not living the examined life, but it is the way tragedy works, sneaking in on the edges of consciousness in bite-sized shockwaves.  There's so much that the narrator understands about his life, and yet so little that he really grasps, and the frequent phonecalls from his comically self-absorbed mother derail him over and over.  It's as though we're peeking into his first emotional reflections, and t

will grayson, will grayson

When John Green and David Levithan got together to make a novel, they took a seemingly silly premise and make it sing.  Two boys both named Will Grayson from nearby suburbs of Chicago cross paths in a wildly unlikely way.  We follow their alternating narration from chapter to chapter, these two Will Graysons.  I can just hear the authors giggling at the set up. Will Grayson #1 is the best friend of big, gay, soon-to-be high school musical director Tiny, and he has two rules:  "1. Don't care too much.  2.  Shut up.  Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the rules." (p. 5)  As Tiny's amazing gay musical takes off, this Will Grayson feels left out, alone, but he does begin to cozy up to new friend and soon-to-be girlfriend Jane.  Tiny set him up with Jane, but Will Grayson #1 is still feeling strange about how he and Tiny seem to be growing apart as the big day of the production approaches.  The other Will Grays