Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: "Reunion" by Alan Lightman

This is a very short book, a work of literary fiction. I bought it at a used book sale because the cover blurb indicated that Lightman's books are all very different. He doesn't stick to a genre.  I like that.

The story is about a college professor who returns to his college for a class reunion. He's a kind of misfit in a world of other misfits all of whom think they are "normal". The novel switches back and forth between his present (generally unsatisfactory) encounters with old acquaintances and his reminiscences about the love of his life, a ballerina he met when he was in undergraduate school. The plot is: boy falls in love with girl who has her own agenda, and the result not good. The story is not all that original.

The thing that kept me reading was the prose.

Lightman's prose reminds me of a pencil sketch:  There is not a lot of detail;  It leaves plenty to the imagination; It's spare and simple. It's almost Hemingway-esque in its stark brevity -- but anti-Hemingway in subject matter.

The novel used the kind of awkward social environment of a reunion -- an experience many have experienced first-hand or at least contemplated -- to explore painful events that have been deeply buried for a long time.

The book was okay. I think I would read at least one other book by this author just to test out the "all his books are different" claim.

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