I respect the work the reviewers at Kirkus and Publishers Weekly do, am quite satisfied at the praise they have given my books, and understand how grinding out reviews on schedule forces one to limit the depth of one’s response. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to devote a few blog entries to drawing reader attention to some of those depths that reviewers have not yet elucidated. For today’s example take the Kirkus praise of the “many funny scenes”, the “vivid account” of surviving Hiroshima and the “Dante-esque” consequences of 9/11 and contrast that with the judgement that the Civil War Journal is “tangential” to the story. To call The Civil War Journal tangential is to miss the theme of false identities and the lies we tell ourselves and others and how the journal is a young man writing to himself; a written memory conscious of the foibles of memory in a book full of false memory arising from accidents, misunderstandings and good intentions. This particular reviewer noted my literary technique of abrupt transition but missed the thematic significance to memory. The apparent tangentiality of the Civil War Journal in reality enhances its relevance to the book as a whole. I recently saw an interview with Roger Rosenblatt on The PBS Newshour discussing his own abrupt transitions and their relationship to his theme of memory in his latest book. It may well serve someone reading my Charging Bull of Terry County to look up the Rosenblatt interview as well.
I wanted to write a classic regular folks would actually read. I wanted to write an adventure academics would find resonant with meaning. You tell me how well I did.