“If you have been cursed by art, you have to do your work or you die before you stop breathing.”
Aaron Benham, writer, professor, husband, father, is having a midlife crisis.
He’s stalled on his latest novel; he’s dealing with the hysterical mother of a missing student as well as the worried wife of a doctoral candidate who won’t finish his thesis; and he’s disappointed his family once again by forgetting about the family trip they had planned. During that long weekend alone, while his family has gone on without him, Aaron wrestles with age-old questions: Who am I? How did I get here? What is my purpose?
Set in New England of the early 1970s, the novel ranges through time and memory and fiction itself. We are treated to Aaron’s stream-of-consciousness reminiscences of WWII Army life, the goings-on of the present day, and his struggles with his novel. In fact, we spend a lot of time inside Aaron’s novel itself…”a thinly disguised memoir of his college days,” to quote the back cover. And even some time inside the novel’s novel…each story interconnected by outside events, haunting regrets, and foolish young decisions. Aaron’s world allows him to be selfish and self-indulgent — a guilty flaw he fully recognizes and explores at length through his own internal dialogue and that of Allard Benson, the alter ego of his novel. By the time we reach the conclusion, Aaron may or may not be a better person, but he’s certainly aware.
Although it took me a little while to get into the rhythm, the story flowed easily, with beautiful language, well-drawn fully-fleshed characterizations, and smooth transitions. Well worth reading.
Thank you, LibraryThing Early Reviewers for the opportunity to read this book.