I spent my holiday break in New Mexico. Which, if you’ve never been, is choice, I hiiiighly recommend it. Of course I got the most vicious of colds, because that’s what happens to me nearly every time I set foot on a plane, and I ran quickly out of money but the good news is I got plenty of reading done. Also, I got a Kobo Glo for Christmas and hell froze over. Wait, wait, wait before you throw my own words back in my face, there’s actually a perfectly good reason I went over to the electronic darkside. Netgalley. A site that connects book reviewers/reading professionals (which is an actual thing, life dream complete) with publishers. I request what I want and if I look legit based on my profile (so legit, BTW) then I get access to a free ebook copy. I hate reading books on screen but this is too good to pass up. So, I tried to make do with my computer—awful, reading never felt so much like work—gave up and asked for an ereader instead. It took a little convincing of G that it was something I actually wanted. That’s how much I’m not a fan of ereaders. But, in the end there it was under the tree, with a rad typewriter embossed case so that I can feel like even more of a hypocrite. Ha! In all seriousness, though, maybe I gave the thing too hard of a time. There are several instances when it just might be BETTER than real live, hold ‘em in your hands books. Like, late night driving if you’ve never invested in a book light. Life saver. Or if you have access to ebooks that you need to read but no comfortable way of reading them… so… at least two ways they beat books. Otherwise. Sorry, no. Real book every time.
Anyway, one of such books I read over the holidays was Wise Men by Stuart Nadler. I can already assume this will be a contender for my favourite book of the year. The son of a lawyer, Hilly Wise, is caught up in a life he doesn’t recognize when his father wins a big negligence case against an airline. Part of the nouveau riche in Cape Cod in the early ’50s Hilly meets and falls in love with a young African American girl, Savannah, at a time when their relationship only finds obstacle after obstacle, not the least among them, his overtly racist father. The summer they spend together changes him and the rest of the book chronicles how one season carries through and touches the rest of his life. Stuart Nadler is pretty fantastic. I wasn’t especially excited to read this book but from the first couple pages, I was completely drawn in. It’s not that any of the characters are particularly likeable, actually, most of them are maddening—but to watch them each circling their own drain is immensely satisfying.
Nadler isn’t heavy handed with serious themes, they take a back seat to character development—people who you might love then hate, but at the very least, constantly surprise you.