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An exceptional book with well-drawn characters who drive the novel. The interfaith marriage, the anti-Semitism in the small Michigan city, the conflicts between Saul and his mother and brother make this an engaging and insightful literary novel. The aimless/pointless suicide and the growth of the "Himmel" cult show a perceptive understanding of youth culture. Well worth reading, or listening to.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
As I understand it, the characters Saul and Patsy originated in short stories Charles Baxter wrote some years ago. In developing the situations of these appealingly quirky characters into a novel, the seams do sometimes show. Occasionally, the reader (listener) will observe a repetition of exposition that was given earlier in the novel, almost as if someone had forgotten to edit this out. For me, the first half of this novel dragged. I wondered whether I would finish this book. However, in the second half, the plot took on a new momentum that was quite engaging. The puzzling death of one of Saul's former students set in motion a series of confrontations between Saul and the community and a realization on Saul's part of the need for personal change and development. John Rubinstein's narration was superb with nuances for each character. Although he was a pleasure to listen to, his voice did not quite capture the youthful, awkward, sometimes rebelious, sometimes confused voice of Saul, a twenty-something young adult.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful