Eric Malone's Reviews > A Moment in the Sun

A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

it was amazing
Read in July, 2011

Set at the turn of the 20th-century, A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles weighs in a hefty 950 pages. One might think a historical novel of this length might be a little tedious to read, but this is not the case with A Moment in the Sun. Sayles' writing is clear and engrossing, and you can certainly tell this novel is written by someone skilled with writing film screenplays.

That is not to say that this is a light, feel-good read; the characters are repeatedly subjected to the harshest treatment imaginable. In fact, one might suggest the idea of the Sisyphean task is THE central theme of this novel. Character Hod Brackenridge quite literally struggles again and again up a steep, icy hill in the Yukon, hauling his gear a few pounds at a time only to have the whole ordeal rendered futile on the last trip. Consider the black community in the South struggling from slavery to Reconstruction-era prosperity, then watching helplessly as their voting and citizenship rights are revoked by Jim Crow laws. The character Lei Man escapes the practice of foot-binding, escapes an encounter with a wolf, escapes a shipwreck, escapes being sold into prostitution, escapes the occupying armies of Spain and the United States, and on and on. *Personal note: Lei Man is a relatively minor but perhaps my favorite character in the novel. I pretty much read the sections involving her with while holding my breath and fighting goosebumps. *

Sayles gives a very strong and accurate description of just how DIFFICULT and different life was a century ago. I walked away from this novel feeling absolutely blessed to be living in an age of technological exponentiation. In a few months, when this story has faded a bit from my mind, I might be upset to find a spider on the bathroom wall or find the hot water has been completely used up, but right now I just can't bring myself to complain.

If you are considering reading this novel, I would urge you to do so. You will find yourself hooked by about page 50.
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