On a whim, aging director Dixon Greenhouse accepted the three month fellowship in Berlin, with a promise that nothing would be required of him but an interview about his moviemaking career. Thirty years have passed since he directed his greatest film, a cult classic called Summer, about a group of German artists between the wars. Now, out of inspiration, in the dark Berlin winter, he sifts through past and present for a new creative direction. Just's intelligent, compelling, and meticulously crafted fiction offers unexpected insights into the psychology of people obsessed with art or political intrigue and faced with circumstances that make pursuit of their passion, or addiction, difficult if not dire. An ever evolving writer with a deep sense of global connectedness and the habitual abuse of power, Just has reached a new plateau in this novel, a work of subtle suspense and significant irony that penetrates hidden terrain similar to that explored by Conrad, Greene, and Didion.More
"Narrator Robertson Dean enhances Ward Just's subtleties in structure and character development with his impeccable diction and elegant pacing. His voice rumbles in the ear, his words dropping like velvet pebbles into a pond of dark silk." (AudioFile)
"Just writes seamlessly, mixing spoken dialogue, interior monologue, and narrative so that the story unreels before the reader as in a film. Recognized for writing that puts him among the best in the United States today, Just portrays a talented person, trapped by circumstance and lassitude, breaking free into new creativity and insight." (Library Journal)
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- Book Dad
A Wonderful Novel, Beautifully Narrated
It is certainly one of the best I've listened to in the past year. This was the first work by Ward Just that I've come across, and I'm surprised that I had never heard of him ... none of my friends are familiar with him, either. What a loss for us all, since his is one of the more powerful American voices of the past generation. Although he cites Henry James as a major influence - and certainly the subtle ways that we enter the minds of the characters is Jamesian -- his prose reminds me of F Scott Fitzgerald who appears in the novel briefly in a story told by the narrator's father. Ward Just was a journalist in the 1960s and left the newspaper business to write novels and short stories. This book centers on an aging film director, Dixon Greenwood, spending three months at a humanities colony in Berlin, not too far from where he directed his best film some thirty years earlier. What happens during his stay, and what he remembers, is what the book is about. Greenwood is a wonderful character, compelling as much as for what he does and says as for what he holds back.
Given the subject matter, Dean's voice, who here sounds a good deal like Orson Wells, is perfectly suited. His performance is powerfully convincing.
- H. Segal