Thursday, April 01, 2010

Fiction: Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore

Delicious, complex and unexpected, Something Red (Scribner) is that impossible animal: a novel close to capable of being all things to everyone. A family saga with politics, espionage and a hit of romance. Yet the book is a well-plotted, engaging generational saga.

In 1979, the Cold War is drawing to a close, President Carter has just announced the United States’ grain embargo against the USSR and the Washington, D.C.-based Goldstein family is in turmoil. An activist grandfather, an anorexic daughter, a son entering college and the parents -- Dennis and Sharon -- about to embark on their own journeys of dissatisfaction and confusion with who they are and what they want: both culturally and personally.
When President Carter announced the embargo, Dennis did not initially think about the American farmers who would be wrecked, or of the disastrous effects on trade, or the implications of using food to swing politics. What he first thought of was his mother, her hips knocking the linoleum kitchen table as she mixed egg whites and sugar in a porcelain bowl for her tiny meringues, her long, bony fingers, knuckles white, gripping the metal eggbeater.
Gilmore’s first novel, the wonderful Golden Country, was deeply acclaimed. It was a New York Times Notable Book for 2006 and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Something Red is at least as good as that book. Perhaps better.



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