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This intriguing novel alternates between Seattle in 1962, when the Worlds Fair opened, and Seattle in 2001, when the whiz-kid "father of the fair" resurfaces to run for mayor. The conflict between an aggressive but thoughtful young journalist and the pragmatic, candid civic leader is the heart of the book. While the characters didn't quite come to life for me, the novel presents a realistic look at the ethical dilemmas faced by both ambitious politicians who do what they can for their towns and careful journalists who struggle under deadline and pressure from their editors.
As the novel moves toward its climax, there is real tension over the kind of news story Helen, the reporter, will ultimately write about Roger, the mayoral candidate. Questions linger over the main characters' integrity and drivers--as well as that of potential news sources. Subplots involving the personal lives of the main characters and cameo appearances by celebrity visitors to the fair--LBJ, Elvis, John Glenn, Benny Goodman--provide entertaining diversions.
Richard Poe is my favorite narrator. He brings the right level of drama to his narration, with pauses just when you want to think about what is happening (too many narrators just plow ahead after a startling plot development, and I have to turn off the audio for a while to think about it). He brings the right amount of color to the voices of the characters. A great choice for this enjoyable novel.
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