Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cape Magic Beach Read or Analysis of a Mid-Life Crisis?

I spent the last few days reading Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic, which I thought would be perfect for summer. In some ways, with its depictions of weddings and beach vacations, it is. In other ways, with its dissections of all the ways a perfectly ordered life can come unravelled, it's not.

For those of you who love skewering satires of academic life, this book will satisfy. For those of you interested in family dynamics and the way they run through generations, this book provides a good primer, but at 272 pages, it's not an intergenerational book the way that other books are. It doesn't have that depth.

Russo is a masterful storyteller, and right until the last page, I couldn't tell where the novel would be taking me as a reader. Yet in retrospect, the plot moved in ways that the characterization set in motion: nothing in this novel strained my faith or broke the spell.

Some have said that the characters are unlikable, but I didn't find them so. Bumbling, yes. Flawed, yes. What kind of book would we have without flawed characters?

So, for people who want reading that's lighter than, say, Anna Karenina, but not quite as fluffy as some beach reads, this book will fit the bill. Pour yourself a lemonade (or a gin and tonic) and enjoy!

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