"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review #17: Indiscretion, by Charles Dubow

Indiscretion is a brillian debut from Charles Dubow. Set in New York, the Hamptons, and Rome, it chronicles the story of Harry, a National Book Award-winning novelist, his beautiful, lovely, sweet wife Maddy, and their young son, Johnny. Theirs is an idyllic life, full of dinner parties and cocktails, and one summer, a young woman named Claire wanders in to their circle. Maddy, entranced by Claire, takes her under her wing; Claire winds up falling in love with Harry. Harry holds her off, at least for a while. But Harry weakens - he's faced with a sophomore novel that isn't taking shape and a general sort of malaise, about what it's unclear - and when he runs in to Claire during a trip to New York, he falls in to bed with her. They begin a love affair that sends Maddy to her knees, and tears his marriage apart.

Dubow makes the very interesting choice to have Maddy's childhood friend Walter narrate the story. Reminiscent of Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway, Walter is in love with Maddy, and it shows. Giving Walter the voice of the novel allows a unique perspective, one that enriches the story, and it was a daring move that paid off.

There is a stunning line in the book, maybe two-thirds of the way through, that so perfectly sums up the events of the story: "We make so many right decisions in life, but it is the wrong ones that can never be forgiven." It is the harbinger of things to come, things I knew were going to happen, things about which I screamed, "No, no, no!" in my head. Things I was so worried about, I even committed the cardinal sin of readers and skipped ahead, so that I could get the trauma over with.

It's there, just past those skipped-ahead pages, that Dubow takes a turn, and then another and another and another, turns I saw coming, turns I thought I saw coming, turns I never saw coming. This is an exquisite, beautifully written novel, and I hope that we see more of Dubow in the years to come.

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