Laura C.'s Reviews > A Moment in the Sun

A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
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's review
Oct 15, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read in October, 2011

On a recent episode of Bravo’s “The Next Great Artist”, the participants were challenged to take a piece of thrift store kitsch and turn it into something remarkable. One artist began with a picture of a southern belle with real hair. He remade it into a commentary on the bondage of beauty, race, and money. In the end, he was voted off. The judges said it was an important topic, but that his work brought no new insights to the table. This cannot be said for John Sayles book, “A Moment in the Sun”, which addresses very much the same topics. Weighing in at a substantial 995 pages, not a single one of which is wasted, the book begins the year my grandfather was born: 1897. Here is the American experience seen through the eyes of fortune hunters, soldiers both black and white, actors, people of color, scullery maids, cons artists and convicts, a black physician and his family, a horse whisperer, an idealistic Filipino patriot, a budding cinematographer, and in the end, an elephant. Shocking and relevant, as all good story telling is, the book is highly memorable, and defiantly insightful. It helped me understand, and it may even have changed me. With this book, Mr. Sayles goes on my list as a Great Artist. He made me remember why I am glad I can read.
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