I read this because of the book review in the NYT on 11/13/14. The reviewer’s last sentence: The final chapters of this indelible book pulled my heart up under my ears. caught my attention.
I will never look at a homeless or poor person again without noticing how worn their shoes are because of reading this book. This novel changes your perspective, that rare gift of terrific writing by Atticus Lish. He writes with a real respect for the struggles of a PTSD suffering vet & an undocumented immigrant & their love story.
I read it during the week that Congress was trying to pass a bill that would dump the McCain-Feingold 2002 campaign finance law. Nancy Pelosi said that the measure (supported by Obama) will “drown out the voices of the American people & massively expand the role of big money in our elections.”(USA Today 12/11/14). Ordinary people losing power & respect is becoming an ordinary story not just in Russia, but here in the USA.
I used to live in an insulated “have” neighborhood because of the public school district, where I was the only one I knew to buy a used car. I am relieved to live in diversity, in a working class area where many people drive Chevy cavaliers. Being insulated can be mind-numbing & lacks empathy.
The two lovers in the story push themselves to be physical and the details the author captures make you feel as if you are pounding the pavement right along by their side. Their relationship builds & layers in a very authentic way that combines both dread & happiness for them as they move towards the future.
It’s a book where the characters stay with you after you have finished the last page, which is my favorite kind of art within a novel.
It’s hard to believe this is a first novel for the author, because it is so well crafted. The words soar off the page. The details of owning so little, eating terrible food and barely getting by carry a truthfulness that makes them stick to your heart.
Already, I look forward to the next novel by Atticus Lish.