I just finished The Emperor of Ocean Park over the weekend, and the novel resonated with me for many reasons.
Multifaceted, this novel by Stephen L. Carter, who is a law professor at Yale, tugged at me. On one level it was about the importance of family -- the extent to which a parent will go to for a child, the perspective a child has about a parent, the complicated jealously and misunderstandings among siblings, as well as the difficulty and frantic nature of a marriage when balancing two demanding careers and trying to raise a child.
On another level, the novel was a mystery. Full of nuances and twists of plot, the family gathered for the funeral of their father, a powerful but eventually fallen judge, who ruled his children with an iron fist, but had a mysterious and enigmatic past. A secret in his past -- which leads the youngest son and narrator of the novel into the intricate world of power --
The novel was also an inside look at the politics, collegiality, and pressure of being a professor at a law school.
It also touched on race in America.
This is one of the best books I have read in a while.
Carter won me pretty quickly with his ability to write with both intellect and wit while he wove his story.
I loved many of his pithy comments, some funny, some thoughtful:
"He found Jesus without the inconvenience of going to prison."
"The way belief in right and wrong can interfere with human communication."
"How can a civilized world preach the idea of no judgment?"
"Anger is not a right -- it's an emotion."
"Wrong [is] a word that has lost its meaning in the new century."
"I don't know is pure Hamlet."
"I don't start rumors; I spread them."
and one of my favorites .. "Irony gets me nowhere."
I wrote Mr. Carter an email today, and he kindly replied. Those of us who are readers really should take the time to let the authors know we are out here.... reading what they have written.
Next up: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro -- so far, it reminds me of someone telling a story under water -- it's muffled and murky... we'll see.
I like Ishiguro; I'll give it a hundred pages.
That's all I got.