Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review - Thanksgiving Night

I've been back on a little bit of a fiction reading kick, and the most recent novel finished was Richard Bausch's Thanksgiving Night (2006). I have read a decent amount of Bausch's short fiction, a genre he is terrific in, and have also read his most recent novel, Peace (2008). Peace was a short novel, but I liked its sparse, tightly constructed framework. (I would link you to one of my brief reviews, but I read it right when it came out which was before I started blogging... so there is no blog entry...).

In short, this novel is the intertwined story of a handful of characters who are not related at the outset, but whose lives become intermingled over the course of the book. There are a couple of eccentric old ladies, a troubled middle aged couple with grown kids with their own issues, a single mom with two smaller children, and a few others mixed in for good measure. What you end up with is dysfunctional stew, with the various failings of many of the characters coming together to build to the requisite crescendo and denouement leading up to, at, and in the immediate aftermath of the titular Thanksgiving night dinner.

I liked the novel, but if I had a complaint at all, it would be that whereas Bausch's stories are very tight (as necessarily the case in a good short story), this novel meandered around a good bit over 400+ pages without ever really getting to the heart of the characters the way I would have liked, or hoped for.

3.5 stars out of 5. An entertaining enough read, but not great. I have no issue having spent a week of nights reading these 403 pages, but if I were recommending Bausch (which I would), I would say to start with his short fiction.

Next up: Canada (2012), by Richard Ford.

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