Monday, October 25, 2010

The DiagnosisThe Diagnosis by Alan Lightman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars




Out of the DeLillo playbook, a business commuter gradually loses the use of his limbs, and his confronted with medical experts who disguise their inability to treat him and render a diagnosis by having him submit to yet more tests. A novel full of comic moments and sleights of hand-- the father's relationship with his son is sad stuff, two-hankie time-- but there is strong feeling of what the world would be like if all the things that we plug into stopped giving us the illusion of information and clarity and instead added to our anxiety, increased oh-so-slowly another ten or twenty degrees. Lightman isn't the most graceful writer, but this novel works rather well. One will note the shared concern with DeLillo, who wrote a kind blurb for this novel: nominally intelligent citizens who realize  too late their trust in the priesthoods of specialists and jargon masters have not only not aided them in their real or imagined crisis, but in fact made their lives worse.


Feast Of Love 

-- Charles Baxter 

The author-writing-himself-into-the-novel gambit is strained at this time, but Baxter makes it new again but receding, almost immediately, to the background as the chapters give themselves over to the characters' voices that confide their habits and whims of love, the very stuff of their breathing. A surpise, a pleasant surprise, this.