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Reunionby Alan Lightman
Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times has called Alan Lightman “highly original and imaginative.” Each of his novels is a new exploration of that imagination, utterly unlike the others. Einstein’s Dreams, an international best-seller, was a whimsical and provocative tone poem about time. The Diagnosis, hailed by the Washington Post as a “major accomplishment” and a finalist for the National Book Award, was a disturbing examination of our obsession with speed, information, and money, and the resulting poverty of our spiritual lives. Lightman’s new novel, Reunion, is a delicate and haunting story of how we shape our identity through memory.
Charles is a middle-aged professor at a minor liberal-arts college, a once promising poet, admiring of passion but without passion himself. Without knowing why, he decides to attend his thirtieth college reunion. And there, he magically witnesses a replay of his senior year.
Drawn back into his memories, Charles watches his tender and romantic twenty-two-year-old self embark on an all-consuming love affair with a beautiful dancer. As the two young people struggle to find themselves amidst the social and political chaos of the late 1960s, the older Charles recalls contradictory versions of his past, ultimately confronting for the second time a series of devastating events that would forever change his life.
Written with crystalline prose, at once precise and mysterious, Reunion explores the pain of self-examination, the clay-like nature of memory, and the impossible hopefulness of youth.
"[A] tautly constructed and haunting tale of lost love....Lightman infuses even the simplest scenes with quiet menace as he explores the cataclysmic power of both erotic love and shocking betrayal." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Lightman indulges his romantic side...coming dangerously close to mawkishness....Here, unadulterated sentiment leaves the reader flailing for a foothold." Publishers Weekly
"[E]legant...spare, economical and charged with meaning....[Reunion] powerfully...explores the seductions and betrayals of young love in a way that restores significance to passions that passing time demands we shrug off." Jonathan Wilson, The New York Times Book Review
"[T]here's too little variation overall from the central story's very nearly suffocating abstraction, sentimentality, and banality. And there's none of the conceptual excitement that made this author's earlier books so stimulating." Kirkus Reviews
"Lightman is one of a handful of writers in America capable of injecting the necessary quietude into his prose to make this experiment work....[D]espite its flaws, Reunion is that rare thing in this age: a genuine work of art." John Freeman, Denver Post
"Reunion is essentially a remake of the great Francis Ford Coppola film Peggy Sue Got Married. This wistful, bittersweet novel is marred by sketchy characterizations and a cliched Sixties ambience. For aging boomers only." Library Journal
"Lightman's distanced, even formal prose style...fits well with the book?s theme of sadness at the road not taken. But even at only 231 pages, Reunion reads like an overextended vignette from [Einstein's Dreams]." The Rake
"The novel begins densely...then thins out....Lightman appears too fond of his hero to wound Charles profoundly; instead, reaching for a universal sadness, he falls short and becomes maudlin instead." Richard C. Walls, The Boston Phoenix
"Reunion is a slim volume and, however beautifully written, one might wish for a bit more weight....Still, the book is a worthy addition to Lightman's work. (Rating: B+)" William Dieter, Rocky Mountain News
"[Lightman] has a Proustian concern for the manipulations of time and memory, but the path he back-travels in Reunion is a journey more sentimental than revelatory....[I]t's a corny love song..." Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe
At 52, Charles is a professor at a little college, a once-promising poet, divorced, admiring of passion but without passion himself. Written with crystalline prose, at once precise and mysterious, Reunion explores the pain of self-examination, the nature of memory, and the impossible hopefulness of youth.
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