Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: "Northwest Corner"

John Burnham Schwartz's fifth novel, Northwest Corner (forthcoming from Random House) is a standalone sequel to Reservation Road, featuring several of the same characters several years later. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of college student Sam Arno, his estranged father Dwight and ailing mother Ruth, Dwight's paramour Penny, and Emma, a young woman of an age with Sam whose connection to the family I should let the reader discover.

When Sam seriously injures a fellow student in a bar fight and then flees to his father in California, the family and those around them are drawn into a whirlwind of consequences as their past and present trials and decisions swirl around them.

I had a hard time putting the book down after I opened it; it's written with a well-paced immediacy that practically demands that it be read all at once. The characters are so troublingly real, so frustratingly human, it's difficult not to understand them (even if some of their actions might be incomprehensible), and I wanted to know what would happen to them, which choices they would make and what those would mean.

A fine addition to your summer reading list, I'd say.