06 October 2006

Snow falling on diseased corpses

I very much enjoyed David Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars and when I heard of a new novel of the Pacific Northwest I got a hold of it quickly. Tom Mullen's The Last Town on Earth (ISBN 1-4000-6520-8) is nowhere near as enchanting as Guterson's lovely work, but did engage me with the characterizations and description of life during the flu pandemic of 1918. Many of the characters seemed flat, although not entirely depthless - I would have liked to know the author's assigned character motivations for a staunch feminist and pacifist such as Mrs. Worthy becoming subservient to her husband's decisions, for Graham's simplistic justifications for evil deeds (in an otherwise complicated character), and even for the conscientious objector portrayed heriein. While weak on character detail, though, the novel has a brisk pace through the plot and evidence of the research into the pandemic and the IWW shows through clearly. The connection between the epidemic, labor issues, and wartime nationalism is thought provoking, and reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's masterwork, The Jungle.

An excerpt from the book is available from USA today and an interview with the autor is available from NPR.


Anonymous said...

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