Krista Howe I love this novel!! In fact, I loved it so much that I wrote my master's thesis on it. It is noteworthy as an American novel, especially in our troubled and traumatized world. This is a trauma narrative worthy of canonization in 20th Century literature. Not only does it delineate the problematic nature of memory and imagination and trauma, but also illustrates the acting out and working through of national tragedy on a personal level as it recalls the narrator's loss of his mother to the Spanish Flu and thus turns us again to Maxwell's second novel They Came Like Swallows written 40 years earlier. It is a prime example of the work that autobiography and autobiographic fiction perform in our culture, to recognize that we all have a place in history. The things that happen in our world affect us all in one way or another. We are "no more immune to misfortune than anybody else" (Maxwell 9).
Carol Yes! I was drawn to the title on the library shelf, years ago. I didn't know anything about Maxwell at the time. He's a wonderful writer. I also love They Came Like Swallows, based on Maxwell's loss of his mother in the influenza epidemic of 1918, when he was ten years old. Maxwell's writing has been inspiration, if I may use that word, and nourishment for my own writing, on the same subject.
Frances I have just finished it....it was perfect. I too loved it and I don't live in the States - an image of a different America to the one constantly portrayed.
Sara A well-phrased question, John. I just this morning finished this book and, yes, there seems to me to be a deeply compassionate and only-in-the-Midwest type of kindness in the voice. It was lovely.