Friday, December 23, 2016

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

Another tale of two weddings - but a very different story!

Scriptwriter/college professor Jack Griffin's life is unraveling: He's unhappy in his job, uneasy in his marriage, beleaguered by his parents, and bewildered by his in-laws. In the year between two Cape Cod summer weddings, he attempts to figure things out.

Jack's kind of like Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore - he's generally unhappy and it actually seems he's the most satisfied when he's unhappy. He's been driving around with his Dad's ashes in an urn in the trunk of his car and he seems completely unable to part with them as he's been instructed. His mother's haranguing on the phone leads to reminiscences about his youth, his snooty professorial parents' drama-filled marriage, and their summers on the Cape.

Richard Russo knows how to write about the common man, and he knows how to make a dramatic situation turn slapstick and yet still ring true. This book is somehow loftier (again, professorial?) than his Nobody's Fool/Everybody's Fool townies and slightly less entertaining, as I found Griffin's doldrums to be a bit wearing. But it's worth it to stick around for the final, dramatic wedding events and the resolution (or non-resolution) to his mid-life crisis.

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