Michael's Reviews > A Moment in the Sun

A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
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's review
Aug 29, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction

I had this rated a four (because I never give anything a five) but changed to five because I don't like when people criticize John Sayles and I didn't want to do it. He essentially does exactly what I want in popular history and tries to appeal to the mainstream at the same time, and people just look for excuses not to read him or go see his movies. Yes the book does have many characters and plot lines, but you never get lost. It is long, but fun and not difficult. One negative review I read said you needed to constantly google to follow it. That person had clearly not read truly difficult stuff like Pynchon or Melville where you would be lost without an encyclopedia. Most of the history can be clearly understood from the text. If you want more, the publisher has a great website with annotated pictures (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/books/amome...). It's not finished, but it should be great when it is, and as a history teacher I would recommend using it to give small sections to your students for research.

I have this same problem with reviews of his recent film Amigo, which is set at the same time as the book but has nothing to do with it really. The negative comments these reviews make revolve around it being too hokey or sincere or not enough of an artistic accomplishment. That might be true, but it isn't what's keeping people from seeing the film or reading the book. His stuff isn't commercially successful because it doesn't have happy endings and it's too political in a way that is more than just liberal. He tries his best to make the stuff have mainstream appeal in its form (which is where the hokey and sincere criticism comes from). I think people are just looking for reasons not to like it because they aren't really interested in politics or history. Whatever it's shortcomings (which I don't see many), there is no novel about the Spanish American War that is more of a literary achievement than this. So if you're interested you have to read it.
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