Timothy Bazzett's Reviews > An Unfinished Season

An Unfinished Season by Ward Just
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's review
Feb 26, 2012

it was amazing
Read in December, 2011

Ward Just's AN UNFINISHED SEASON is not at all what I'd expected. It was better. It is a coming-of-age kind of story, but several cuts above most books of that sort. Just brings a kind of sophistication and artistry seldom seen in books about growing up and falling in love. Granted there is the knowledge and heartbreak that often comes with hindsight in such matters, but (and I wish I had a little more sophistication in describing this beautiful book) Jeeze, this is one helluva story!

Set in Chicago and its northern suburbs in the early fifties, the McCarthy years, the Rosenbergs, Boss Daley, the heyday of great newspapers and reporting - all that stuff is in here, along with a fine and varied cast of complex and realistic characters, from its young hero, Wils Ravan, his parents, his bosses at the paper, his girlfriend, Aurora, and her sad and disturbed psychiatrist father (a survivor of the Bataan death march). And it all flows together so naturally. It keeps you pausing to consider a particularly good turn of phrase, but also keeps you turning the pages to learn what will happen next.

Just's uncanny ability to recreate a sense of place and era brought to mind at least two other writers I have read with great enjoyment - one is the late Frederick Busch, who was, I believe, a close friend of Just's. The other is Larry Watson, closer to my own age, but whose skill in the aforementioned skills of place and time - as well as fascinating and fully realized characters - were so very evident in his first and most recent novels, MONTANA 1948 and AMERICAN BOY.

But Ward Just is also totally unique in his style and subjects. I'm only two books into his works so far - so many more yet to read, I know. But I'm sure gonna try. This guy is GOOD!

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
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