Thursday, November 12, 2009

There really is something about the Cape

It's hard to choose which among all the new books to pick up next, but I couldn't resist the allure of That Old Cape Magic. I only married into Cape Cod, myself, so I lack the childhood memories of my husband's family or the characters in Russo's novel. Or my own children, come to think of it. Maybe they'll write their own novels (or parent-bashing memoires) about the oddities of life on a peninsula that's definitely part of the US, and yet very much its own place.

Last year about this time I picked up Richard Russo's previous book, Bridge of Sighs, and found myself savoring the writing, enjoying the turn of phrase. Then came the "school boy bullying" scene and I had to quit. There are certain things that I'm just done with: no more movies about weddings, no more children putting all their creativity into tormenting each other. Oddly, though, I find I will still read about weddings, which play a large role in That Old Cape Magic. It's especially easy when Russo gets so much entertainment value out of the ritual, both the formal and informal aspects.

I'd like to give the book as a present, but am afraid my in-laws might read too much into the choice, given the trouble that the the main characters have with their own in-laws. Jack has tried to spare his wife and children the often exasperating company of his parents, but finds too late that they don't have to be present to win. Or even alive - in the first chapter we're introduced to his father's ashes, riding around in an urn in the trunk of Jack's car. The humor may have its dark side, but I think even in-laws could enjoy it.


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