Monday, January 05, 2009

Travel back in time with 'Land of Hundred Wonders"

Browser here with another book review:

What of "Land of a Hundred Wonders" a novel by Lesley Kagen? The reviews on the back of the jacket say things like "...sensitive", "Poignant, compelling...", "...touch your heart", but this misses the point of this book entirely.

For anyone under the age of about 60, this book will transport you back to a time about which you know absolutely nothing.

If you haven't lived through it, you can't understand it.

This book will help you know much about this era, because its characters are sympathetic and authentic.

The book takes place in the early 1970s in a small southern town. On some level it is an historical novel. No, the characters are not based on real people, and yet they are. The town is divided between the haves and have nots, and it is sometimes difficult to tell which is which. It is also racially divided: physically, racially divided.

The southern sheriff is every bit as confused and corrupt as any you will find in the history of that era. The hero of the piece is a post-traumatic stressed Vietnam vet living in a tent in the woods in summer, a cave in winter.

Though immorality is studied in depth through the interaction of the characters, true immorality is not so easy. No right and wrong here, easily defined. What might seem terribly wrong in a different setting becomes perfectly understandable, and what is truly terribly wrong becomes clear.

I invite you to travel back in time and visit with Gibby, Clever, Billy and Cooter, lifelong friends to whom life has not always been so kind. You won't regret it.

As always, I remain,

-Browser, the library cat

Printed in the Pine River Journal 1 January 2009

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