Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: The Lake Shore Limited

Devastation is the expected response to the death of a loved one. This is a book about all of the other complicated emotions that can interfere with pure grief, and the impossibility of expressing those emotions. The book focuses on the web of people who surround a young man who died in the 9/11 attacks. His girlfriend writes a play about the experience, revealing that she might not be as grief-stricken as she ought to be. The play's viewers and actors form the core of the group of characters. The play focuses on an aging academic, caught in the drama of not knowing what has happened when a terrorist attack is reported on his wife's train. The play is, of course, meant to be a metaphor for the playwright, Billie's, own relationship. It's very difficult to write a play within a novel, and I can't say that this novel is better for it. So much of the book focuses on the play, and the play is just not all that interesting or nuanced. The play is such an important part of the story, but it's essentially flat. I didn't think that this was one of Miller's better books. I much preferred While I Was Gone.

Sue Miller, The Lake Shore Limited (Knopf, 2010) ISBN:

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