Bondurant does a great job in this novel shifting from magnificent imagery to violent outbursts of fury and drunkenness. The brothers – Howard, the war-haunted giant, Forrest, the mythic survivor, and Jack, the fearful dreamer – traverse a hard-scrabble Appalachian world where liquor becomes trade and livelihood, courage and shame. The story is framed by the appearance of writer Sherwood Anderson, on magazine assignment, as he tries to suss out the truth to the moonshine trade, which everyone knows about and about which no one will talk, and the personal tragedies and political corruption that accompanied it.
Two meth-head Cape Town gangsters on an unrelated errand break into Jack Burns’ house and end up dead. Of course, he can’t call the cops, since he and his family are on the lam from U.S. authorities. So, he disposes of the bodies, and, as we know from many other thrillers, sets a chain of events into action that endangers his family, puts him on the run again, and enters conflicts and accords with characters from Cape Town’s dark underbelly.
Leo is a Soviet war hero in post-WW2 USSR, where his service and loyalty to the state has put him in a postion to care for his family in ways unfamiliar to the other citizens and provides him the opportunity to use the political system to oust traitors to the state. In a state where empty accusations can be the equivalent of guilty proof, it also makes him a target to political rivals.
I was more taken by this novel than I had anticipated. The basic premise is that advertising sales star Josh receives a call on Friday afternoon that rushes him to the hospital where his wife has brought their infant son, Zack, complaining of vague but serious symptoms.According to his wife, Dori, the hospital screwed up, but the situation draws the attention of the Head of Pediatrics Dr. Stokes who starts the machinery on the social services monster against the couple.
Rollie Morgan was drunk. The sort of drunk that Marvelous Marv, hunching slightly in the adjacent stool, tapping his unlit Tareyton in five-four time atop the sticky bar, had come to refer to in his companion as “Foghorn Leghorn drunk.” Tonight, for the fourth night in a row, sixty-three-year-old Rollie Morgan was holding court at The Moon Temple, a queasily lit Chinese restaurant lounge populated with three television sets, a dozen bulbous, carbuncled red candle holders, and the faint but unmistakable bouquet of deep fried fat and mop water. Doug, the proprietor, was about as Chinese as Dolph Lundgren.
I want to start by discussing the characters. First, Dubus’ third person narrator pov shifts frequently, from character to character in each chapter such that we get insights into each characters thoughts. How well do you think that works? I know that House of Sand and Fog was acclaimed for the dual narration, but here he gets into a lot of characters heads and I’m not sure it works in every case.