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david szalay, spring

“The question of the day was — Is the world changing more or less quickly than it was? Alexander said LESS quickly. The world was changing less quickly now than at any point in the twentieth century. Think, he said, of the fact that in 1900 there was no powered flight at all. The Wright brothers and their experiment on the sands at Kitty Hawk were still some years in the future. And not much more than a half century after that, there were supersonic airliners, spy planes photographing from the edge of space and men on the moon — while in the almost half a century since then we have essentially not moved past that point.”

This is not part of the main thrust of the book — it’s a nice bit, with the father of one of the main characters throwing himself into play-outrage over luncheon — but it’s also an interesting bit, in a thoroughly-, carefully-put-together realist novel that’s working to capture a specific moment in recent history. It echoes Kurt Andersen’s recent bit, especially inasmuch as it’s a rendering of a highly-specific just-pre-recession moment, spring 2006, in a three-hundred-year-old form.

Graywolf 01.17.12



January 22, 2012, 11:00am   Comments