“Do you ever wonder what became of someone from your distant past? Do you remember a friend from your childhood who wanted to be like all the other kids despite living in circumstances that make it nearly impossible to be like anyone else at all?
There are many moments in a person's past that he or she can't forget. But it's the spontaneous childhood moment that seemed alomst inconsequential in the past that haunts our aging adult narrarator in the present.
In the opening pages, we learn a man was shot. In the pages that follow, we learn who that man was, who the the murderer was, and who they were in relation to each other. We learn not just their names but their temperments, personalities, motives, and personal flaws. In the end, we are left to wonder about the murderer's son, Cletus, and what became of him. Only as an adult can the narrator fully appreciate everything that Cletus must have lived through. A midwestern transplant reflecting upon a successful life in New York, the narroator is left to wonder what became of Cletus and what he could have done to help Cletus feel just a tad bit more like a normal kid. In that sense, we're also left to wonder about the narrator, too.
This story seeps with tragedy and sadness. Everyone and every thing, including the dog, is guilty of betrayal. None will be forgiven and all will suffer. Maxwell tenderlerly tells us a story that starts with the end and slowly shows us how the end began.
While it's not an especially difficult book to follow, those who appreciate a straight storyline told from one perspective may find this book trying. However, it's the multiple perspectives, the rare moments of innocence scattered among the many trials, that allow us to empathize with each of the charcters and ultimately, their tragedies.
- Maybe I'm especially sensitive to dogs but the passage near the end, told from the dog's perspective, was devastating.”
Mark wrote this review Friday, December 23, 2011.