And a Big American Novel it is--perhaps self-consciously so. The hero, David Zielinsky, is the earnest young product of Cleveland's ethnic, blue-collar West Side; his dream girl, Anne O'Connor, hails from snooty Shaker Heights and is smarter, prettier, and richer than anyone she knows. It's no surprise when these two fall in love, but they spend many years tiptoeing around this inevitability. In the interim David marries, starts a family, and nurses political ambitions, while Anne forges her own career in local TV news. Winegardner, meanwhile, has other fish to fry. He devotes entire chapters to such local luminaries as Dorothy Fuldheim, the city's woman broadcasting pioneer; Carl Stokes, its groundbreaking black mayor; Alan Freed, the DJ who credited himself with naming rock & roll; and more sports heroes, seasons, and individual games than you can shake an American institution at.
These are fascinating stories. It does, to be sure, take some time to get used to the constant, hectoring intrusion of the second person: "You lived in the present, dreamed of the future, and, until you were an old man, thought little of the past. And in a country with a fascist's love of victory, few understood that you rode into history on a rocket called defeat." In the end, though, all stylistic quibbles pale next to the wisdom and generosity with which Winegardner has drawn his characters--including the city itself. Anne loves her hometown "the way one loves a loyal family pet during its arthritic, bad-smelling final years," but one senses that for the author, the sentiment goes much deeper than that. Its very failures are lovely to him, and its persistence more lovely yet. As Anne herself might paraphrase Beckett: It can't go on. It goes on. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I look forward to reading it when my husband is finished with it.
This novel does what I look for in a book: tells a unique story, creating a time and place, with characters which live.
Winegardner lets his literary tongue wag a little too much as the book goes on, perhaps, and it's not without pretense.
Coming from Cleveland I'm probably prejudice, but this is great fictionalized history of Cleveland, adding interesting characters and story to Cleveland's history from the 1950's... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ken in Virginia
I have not completely read the book, so I can't comment too much on it. I bought it for my husband. Read morePublished 12 months ago by KayJay
This book by Mark Winegardner told me more about Cleveland than I knew, and more than I really was interested in knowing. Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by J. Robert Ewbank
I went from reading Freedom (Jonathon Franzen) straight to this book and was delighted! I found it off of an obsure readers list and have read two other books from that list that... Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by Chrissy Collins
I trudged through this book while asking myself why I was reading it. It is fragmented with branches that seem to be taking you somewhere but don't. Read morePublished on February 10, 2008 by Dan B
I was not expecting the book to be so sports oriented. I guess I need to go back and look at the description. Read morePublished on March 28, 2007 by Shopper1911
I am thrilled to see that this novel is finally receiving its due, as it was just recognized by Stephen King as one of his Best Books of 2006 (Entertainment Weekly, Dec. issue). Read morePublished on December 24, 2006 by Stevie Janowski
This is a novel that challenges and rewards in equal measure, a saga of Cleveland, a panoply of engaging characters who grapple with the twists of fate in the city and its defining... Read morePublished on July 31, 2004 by Jay