KW's Reviews > That Night

That Night by Alice McDermott
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's review
Jul 17, 2008

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bookshelves: novels
Read in July, 2008

While I may have given this three stars and not more, the way in which the book was written gave me pause and deserves kudos. McDermott focuses on the events surrounding one violent suburban night in which an entire neighborhood involves itself in the results of a teenage romance, the older generation meting out their own judgment upon the vainglorious and careless new while their children look on. Backstory and personal history are mere context to that one night, the actions of an hour, and those involved. The brawl serves as an excellent centerpiece- one night, one hour, a sort of study in suburban interruption which slowly reveals the depth of love and loss and absence held in each identical, stucco-and-siding house. The plot construction is, in this way, exquisite. The prose is very deliberate. McDermott's writing is usually graceful and sparse (see "Charming Billy", a pretty wonderful character study of a cheerfully miserable alcoholic) and "That Night" is no exception. The story reads at a nice pace, as well. Recommended as an interesting story in itself but also as a primer in building a narrative.
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