Sunday, March 15, 2009

'The History of Now' is a novel to savor: Daniel Klein does it again!

'The History of Now' is a novel to savor

by "Massachusetts Slim" (pen name)

SAN FRANCISCO -- He's written books about Elvis Presley,
Plato and even Waldo. But now, at age 70,
in the prime of his writing life, New Jersey native and longtime
Massachusetts resident Daniel Klein has written his best
book ever.

Klein's new novel, "The History of Now", is an ingenious
philosophical examination of cause and effect and, at the same time,
an engaging story of a small-town family in America. Klein manages to
execute both premises successfully, and it's an impressive
achievement. It's the kind of book you can't put down, not because
it's a page-turner so much as because it's a book to savor as you slowly
turn the pages.

Klein lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, high in the Berkshire
Mountains of the western part of the state and the New England village
of Grandville that he sets the story in looks
very much like the place the author calls home now. But this is not a
roman de clef, Klein
insists, and any connection to people living or dead is purely
coincidental. Klein the writer is
writing about the world around him, and posing some very good
questions about the meaning of life and whys and wherefores of life,
but this is not an autobiographical novel at all. It is
America writ large. It is America as Klein imagines it, all 296 pages of it.

Publishers Weekly, the book industry trade magazine, called the book
"a charming philosophical lesson in this story of destiny and history
colliding in a fictional New England town."

The plot? Well, there's Wendell deVries, a solitary man with a
dog-like dedication to familiarity, who operates the film projection
booth inside the Phoenix movie theater in town, and there's Franny,
his 37-year-old daughter, who holds drama club meetings at the theater
as well.

There's also a set of characters, from Babs Dowd, a well-known New
York designer, to Franny's daughter Lila, who make the novel one to
savor, as I did on over a recent weekend here in San Francisco. Having
spent my teenage summers in the Berkshires, I could really feel the
tug of emotions that set this book on fire, and it is a volume I
recommend highly.

Klein, by the way, is the co-author of the whimsical bestseller "Plato
and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar", which came out in 2008. In "A History
of Now", he channels his inner Thornton Wilder, says one critic, and
combines "the family-album features of 'Our Town' with the
inconclusive fatalism of 'The Bridge of San Luis Rey'". A reader today
could not ask for a better diversion than this
well-written and crafty novel.

As a portrayal of small town life, "The History of Now" is American
storytelling at its best. Klein's plot settings ring true, his
dialogue glitters with big ideas, and well-crafted storylines create a
picture perfect book of one small place on the East Coast ineluctably
connected to all places north, south, east and west. This is a novel
for now.

Publisher: Permanent Press
pub date: March 1, 2009
List Price: US$28 plus deep discount via Internet order sites and KINDLE, too!
Pages: 296 pages

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeff Bezos to Bloomy: the book you ordered is on its way.

Signed, sealed and delivered ASAP. Is your current address in Taiwan still valid?