Julie's Reviews > Truth Like the Sun

Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch
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's review
Mar 04, 2015

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, usa-contemporary, read-2012, pacific-northwest
Read from June 14 to 18, 2012

As a native Washingtonian (yes, we do exist), Seattle was long the city of my dreams. I have lived in magnificent and unforgettable places on four continents, yet none of my fond memories of those lands compares to the deep affection I have for Seattle, the first place in nearly forty years of wandering which truly feels like home. And home it has been, since December 2007.

In other words, I dig this town and I dig reading about it. So I'm pretty darn predisposed to wax poetic about a novel that details with the eye of an insider Seattle's rise from a dumpy port town to the glittering Emerald City of hi-tech, high literacy and high-octane coffee. Toss in living history, hard-boiled newspaper reporters, hints of graft, Elvis and quirky bits that only a true Seattleite would get and buddy, you've got yourself a reader.

So, I liked this. I really did. This is when a half-star would come in handy. But I wasn't swept away.

The story alternates between the 1962 World's Fair - when our beloved icon, the Space Needle, first began rotating - and Seattle in 2001, after the tech bust dulled the city's lustre. The contemporary saga, which unfolds in the shadow of the Monica Lewinsky debacle and the travesty of the 2000 presidential election, feels anachronistic. I think the sense of urgency of the scandal is lost on me. The central premise - that a long-ago city hero who suddenly tosses in his hat for mayor may have forty-year-old political skeletons in his closet - just doesn't strike my jaded heart as all that compelling. And the writing is a bit pokey, as well -particularly the 1962 scenes.

A solid good read, but as I pull out adjectives from the jacket blurbs: mesmerizing, hugely entertaining, powerful, devastating, I think "Hmm...not so much." If I want to feel mesmerized, entertained, awed and devastated, I'll bike down to Shilshole Bay and gaze out at the Olympic Mountains. And know that I live in a most spectacular place. True 'dat. Even without the sun.
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Reading Progress

06/14/2012 page 20
7.0% "Just as I sat down this afternoon to crack the cover, Alan Cheuse popped up on NPR's All Things Considered with a great review"
06/16/2012 page 100
37.0% "Ah, the mean streets of Seattle. You wouldn't think it would you?"
06/17/2012 page 125
46.0% "I'm not sure how I'm going to come out on the other side of this. It's kind of draggy, like just on the edge of being a bit dull but then it's not. All very curious."

Comments <span class="mediumText">(showing 1-8)</span>

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message 8: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Lynch's novel "The Highest Tide" is one of my favorites - I'll have to check this one out!

message 7: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Thanks for your candid assessment, Julie. I’ve wondered if I might like this. Although I’ve never been to Seattle, it sounds like a wonderful spot from all I’ve heard from avid fans, and I do love a novel with a great sense of place. This seemed as if it might be one of those books where the setting is very much a character. However, if a devoted Seattleite like yourself cannot get really excited about it, I probably wouldn’t be either. May your next Seattle-based book be more worthy of your great city.

message 6: by Jill (new)

Jill Julie, your reviews just shine. You should go pro, girl! I DID wonder about this book and now I have my answer.

Julie Suzanne, I had the same expectation - that Seattle would be a character in its own right. And it is, perhaps the most interesting one. But none of the characters really captured my curiosity or sustained my interest beyond a surface level...
Lynch is spot-on with his details of the city- he doesn't exaggerate or deprecate. One of his characters is a recent transplant from Ohio & he captures perfectly her perspective.
So, no complaints there. I think it just comes down to the softness of the story.

Julie Jill wrote: "Julie, your reviews just shine. You should go pro, girl! I DID wonder about this book and now I have my answer."

What a sweetheart you are, Jill! Thank you!

message 3: by Jill (new)

Jill Julie, as a Chicagoan, I had the same dilemma with a book I just finished, The Jazz Palace. I was torn between 3 and 4 stars and eventually, graded up. But I wonder how those who DON'T live in Chicago will view it. Btw, thanks for the review of Girl on the Train. I feel I "should" read it because everyone's raving, but thanks to your candidness, I won't!

message 2: by Julie (last edited Mar 05, 2015 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Julie Jill wrote: "Julie, as a Chicagoan, I had the same dilemma with a book I just finished, The Jazz Palace. I was torn between 3 and 4 stars and eventually, graded up. But I wonder how those who DON'T live in Chic..." Isn't that funny, how particular we are about books set in our home? I felt the same about David Vann's Aquarium-bristling at the comments of how cold it was in Seattle, and all references to snow- neither of which is quite the case. But of course the book is beautiful, so I'm willing to forgive :)

Odd that this book popped up- I don't live in Seattle anymore!

message 1: by Jill (new)

Jill I do think Mary Morris did a fabulous job in portraying Chicago. But, of course, others don't and I do bristle a bit when an author gets it wrong. David Vann lived in Seattle for a time, didn't he? The weather references didn't stick with me but I can see how it would if I lived there!

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