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The Good Son: A Novel Paperback – January 24, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“An exquisitely delineated battle between father and son . . . The structure and the language of this novel are almost without fault.” —John Irving, New York Times Book Review
“[Nova’s fiction] is so powerful, so alive, it is a wonder that turning its pages doesn’t somehow burn one’s hands.” —New York Times
“Nova’s novels deserve to be ranked among the best fiction of the past two decades.” —Washington Post
About the Author
Craig Nova is the award-winning author of ten novels. He lives in Putney, Vermont.
Top customer reviews
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Every writer should have at least one perfect (or damn-near perfect) novel like this in their career. Nova has been lucky -- and talented -- enough to have at least half a dozen. THE GOOD SON is one of those books that should be published by the prestigious presses like EVERYMAN's LIBRARY or MODERN LIBRARY, or even THE LIBRARY OF AMERICA -- it's that good. And that essential to those who appreciate good literature.
At a basic level, The Good Son tells the story of Pop Mackinnon, a wealthy country lawyer, and his son, Chip. On another level, The Good Son is the closest and most capable literary understanding of the human condition that I have read in recent memory.
Pop Mackinnon is a man with grand and masculine ambitions for himself and his sons. After his eldest son John is killed in World War II, Chip is the only son Pop has left. Having returned from the war as POW, Chip is expected to follow in Pop's footsteps - to become a lawyer and to marry well. When Chip's relationship with Jean, a 'lower class' woman, gets in the way of his engagement to the pure-bred Carolyn, the battle between father and son escalates to an emotionally and physically dangerous height where the bond of love between a father and son becomes that which each can use to hurt the other the most.
Nova tells the story through the eyes of several different narrators, all characters in the story, whose subsequent roles as character and narrator add depth and clarity to the novel. To punctuate the events of the story, Nova takes several short excursions into the natural world, through the diary entries of Mrs. Mackinnon - Pop's wife, Chip's mother, and a soft-spoken overseer of the battle lines drawn between father and son. In these short passages, Nova demonstrates a profound understanding of the ebb and flow of life, the intermingling of the forces that create, unite and destroy us all.
Craig Nova exterts a masterful control over his work: as you read it, you come to realize the volume and intensity of thought that is required to produce prose so deliberately spare, that each word, each sentence, resounds with delicate roar.
The Good Son, like Nova's other works, is virtuoustic stuff. Not everyone will enjoy it or understand it, but I suspect that those who read it will be as richly rewarded as I have been.
I highly recommend this novel, Nova's fourth and perhaps his best. I'm in good company recommending it, too: John Irving (of The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp) wrote an excellent review of The Good Son in the New York Times Book Review in 1982 that you ought to read
I can understand why Irvine liked it. The Good Son and Irvine's
books have the same quirky feel. Yes, I liked it.
It was not an easy read because there are lots of nutty characters.
It is a story of maneuvers between father and son for power.
Mrs. Mackinnon, the mom is only mildly interested in her
son or her husband. She is obsessed with insects. About every 25
pages we have a chapter devoted to her study. Those few pages are facts about
insects. ( I told you it was quirky). Wade the chauffeur is a great character.
He adds to the father vs son drama. Pop is hard drinking, cigar smoking,
and a law unto himself. Chip the son is an attractive passive aggressive type.
There are girlfriends who are accepted and those who are rejected by Pop.
Keep reading. The last chapter is required reading!!!! Nova kept his sense
of humor hidden until the final pages.