Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

People reflect upon their loves one summer night in Ann Arbor

I have mixed feelings about this book.  The discovery that the narrator in this novel by Charles Baxter was a writer named Charles Baxter set my teeth on edge.  Ok, I thought, this better be very very good.  And it was good.  But good enough to put up with that.

First of all, this is not really a novel.   A novel is a journey  --  it’s the construction of an Aztec pyramid stone by stone so at the top your heart can be ripped out.   A novel is plotted.  A novel has a vast scale.  The Feast of Love is a collection of linked short stories.  The umbrella story is about a poor schlub who marries an impossible women and lives beside a tragic couple and employs another tragic couple at his coffee shop.   Luckily at the end, he finds love in the person of a saint like black doctor who apparently was waiting all her life for a Caucausian schlub to come along.

The subject matter and maybe even the prose style reminded me of a Midwestern Amy Bloom (although maybe Baxter tries to encompass more than one social class).  Beautiful prose.  Their subject is Love or Love and Sex.  The crazy cruel things the yearnings of love makes people do.  In this book, however, there’s a happy ending for everyone.

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