2011: 67. That Old Cape Magic


"Though the digital clock on the bedside table in his hotel room read 5:17, Jack Griffin, suddenly wide awake, knew he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep."

67.  That Old Cape Magic, Richard Russo

First things first.  As you can see, things are still under construction here.  One thing I will be doing as I figure out what I want this blog to look like in our new digs is fiddle around with the format.  So, expect the unexpected!!

Ok, that having been said, That Old Cape Magic.  I'm a Russo fan - once I get my archives up I'll link to the other books of his that I've read and liked - and while this isn't as substantial as some of his other works - Nobody's Fool, Empire Falls, even The Bridge of Sigh, there is no question that I enjoyed every page.  The story is about one of Russo's typical protaganists, an older man whose life has gone off the rails a little bit.  Here it's Jack Griffin, a former screenwriter, now college professor, who is heading up to the Cape to celebrate a friend's daughter's wedding.  It causes him to ruminate on his past - his parent's trips to the Cape every summer, which were basically the glue that kept their terrible marriage together, and it sets of a chain of events in his own marriage that shakes him to his core.  I don't want to say more - if the novel is a bit of a shaggy dog story, the fun is in how you get there.  Really its about the characters more than the plot - Griffin and his wife, and Griffin's harridan mother are particularly sharply drawn, but so are the incidental characters.  I just enjoyed being in his world, and given that I tend to have limited patience for stories of bedraggled middle aged men (I'm looking at you, Philip Roth), that is high praise.

Of course, I have to mention the other thing that I liked - I loved the part about his parents, midwestern professors who felt they failed by not getting to the Ivy League, and their obsession with the Cape.  While I in no way feel like a professional failure, I always sympathize with any character - no matter how wretched - that long for New England.  Sure, for them its about class issues, and for me its recaptured childhood (among other things), but the note hit true...


Categories:  Fiction

So, just in case it's not clear, let me add the disclaimer that this is a link to Amazon Affiliates.  I'm trying it out - basically if you want to read the book, and you click through here, I get a little money back.  Mostly I'm doing it to get the images without violating copyright, but if you click through, that's much appreciated. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017