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America America by Ethan Canin
America America

ryanpjj, November 25, 2009

I had never heard of Ethan Canin before finding this book in my local library. I picked it up when I read the review on the back of the book by Robert Russo when he said something like "read this book and weep, not only for what we have lost, but for how we lost it". Elegaic!

This is an amazing piece of work - epic and homely simultaneously. It is a wonderfully homespun tale, paradoxically replete with internationally known characters and deprecatingly observed historical context, reminiscent in style of Scott-Fitzgerald at his laconic, Gatsby-esq best and yet plotted like a Ludlum blockbuster, a character or historical twist every few pages. Yes, there is that keen sense of loss for both a personal childhood/society and a national era, but there is an uplifting thread of the narrator's humanity and acceptance of necessary change that links that lost past with the present's compromises and avoids any danger of maudlin retrospective. This novel is nothing less than the prose homage to Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Read it while listening to LZ's Kashmir and be uplifted!
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