wally's Reviews > Jack Gance

Jack Gance by Ward Just
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's review
Jul 01, 2012

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Read in July, 2012

jack gance by ward just, the 1st story i will read from this writer...looks like he has a few titles...dating from 1970 to 1997...this one is from 1989...he has two non-fiction titles, too...

dedicated to sarah...

has a preface to the 1997 edition...my copy...family of newspaper reporters, sounds like....papers cost 3-cents...'this was just after the war.'...his father's business was newspapers...his grandfather's, dispensing patronage through editorials....the language of authority...half-finished sentences and formal smiles...lake county, illinois.

story beings:
vacations were automatic and followed a pattern. the day after school ended we left the apartment on the near north side and drove to the little fort river valley, where we rented a cabin on big lake near the wisconsin line. this was during the way. the trip took two hours in the red long-hooded buick, my brother and i in the back seat and our parents up front. in those days the country began just north of chicago.

onward and upward

update at the p-139 mark, 17 jul 12, tuesday afternoon...3:33 p.m. e.s.t.
the story is divided into three parts:
part one 'forties and 'fifties pp 1-137
part two 'seventies pp 138-220
part three 'eighties pp 221-279, the end

the preface says that just used & incorporated the experiences of his family, his father and grandfather. part one concerns itself w/chicago...some time spent on establishing his family, his father, in real estate, watching the cardinal next door...prison time for the old man, who did not ask for help...had he asked, he would have been provided it...he did his time, got out, mother and father move to florida...jack stays on...he works w/numbers.

in part one, i kept waiting for something to be said about voter fraud...part one ends before the election of 1960 is known, but though there is an undercurrent of "the fix" being in...jack, supplying the man...the man capitalized...with numbers to either confirm what he believes, or to wake him up to things he is unaware...establishing jack's worth to the machine. but, alas, nothing about voter fraud...save for the implication...jack is not a part of that family...he is not that close...

just establishes a time-frame at the beginning of many of the ten chapters of part one...using phrases like:....."two years earlier"...."last year at university"....."years later..."..."a year later..."

during this time, he has an affair with a married woman...events transpire...a year later, at end of part one, jack runs into her, again...in a park on his way home...after he has been dismissed, having provided the numbers...he is a kind of pollster...she is returning to the tidewater of virginia...and he may be headed for washington, d.c.

a quote: "a successful campaign exploited the dream and suppressed the nightmare."

update, finished, 18 jul 12, wednesday morning, 7:09 a.m. e.s.t.
an okay read...4-stars, because i don't believe just was as honest with the story as he could have been...mentioned earlier, the suggestion that the fix was in...vote fraud...it happened, it happens, it was not addressed. as he says in the last line...washington "gave and gave and gave and expected nothing in return but loyalty."

just was loyal to the cause.

dishonest...there is this other line at the end that tickles me: "and you lived to struggle another day, always within the rules." call me a cynic, but washington hasn't followed the rules since 1776. if anything, it has strayed further and further from the rules, subject to the whims of many.

...what else? just does not use quotation-marks around dialogue and there is little, or none, of he said she said. it is obvious who is speaking...the story-line does not revolve around a pivotal moment...although there are moments that are brought forward to the end...a fish jack caught, the scene that followed, between his old man and a friend at the lake...

...there is an interesting scene at the end...one of the movers/shakers playing golf w/jack...advising him on a campaign against an anonymous "she"...a one-legged golfer ahead of them with 3 others...the point, i imagine, that to get in the hole you have to swing the club, move the ball, but it's mucho easier w/moneyed/connected friends...

another thing...for having a "subjective" 1st-person narrator, there is precious little that bothers jack gance...he has affairs with married women...as mentioned, with the idea that "the fix" is in...that is never returned to...not even with hindsight, not with wonder, with questions. loyal to the cause...

the story moves through an expanse of time....40s-50s----70s--80s...at one point, it is apparent that kennedy is president, briefly...i think time flips ahead on the same page from election to assassination...apparently...for the telling is vague...and in another time, the 70s...i'm wondering, well, who is president? nixon? ford? it is all so general...

all so vague...like the golf game at the end...the anonymous "she" jack is running against...numbers...polls...ideas...sam's brother, a mover and shaker with ideas, heads of state by the end...figureheads...

like election time...some talking head...looking out, eyes and head moving, neither seeing individuals nor acknowledging their existence, other than as numbers in a crowd...a vote. all so abstract and vague. ...as if he is listening to an echo that only he can hear, that only he is fascinated by...

hmmmm, 4-stars?


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