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The Testing of Luther Albright : A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 1, 2005
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The Amazon Book Review
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The novel is rich with symbolism: Luther's cherished, hand-built home has a problem--and he can't find it. He is an engineer who builds dams and the structure of one of his dams is under review following an earthquake. At every turn, Luther is under siege, being tested. There are many places in the narrative where Luther might have done or said something that would have kept his wife Liz and his son Elliot close to him. Instead, a slow drift away from each other begins and then accelerates until a chasm is created.
The tests that Elliot inflicts on his father take many forms: a shaved head, sabotage of his father's meticulous home-plumbing, a downright lie about a job, a friendship with a man his father despises. All these tests are given in the hope of eliciting a valid response from Luther. Whether it is anger, shame, disappointment, embarrassment, chagrin--Elliot wants his repressed father to show it to him, to have a reaction, and Luther cannot or will not do it. The story is reminiscent in some ways of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, at least in those parts where Franzen chronicles so faithfully peoples' ability to withhold from one another. What Luther withholds is emotional honesty; indeed, real feeling of any stripe.
Elliot is writing a research paper on his grandfather and, since he has never met him, must ask Luther many questions. Luther is not forthcoming, gives monosylllabic answers and never helps Elliot in any meaningful way. Bezos (wife of Amazon.com founder Jeff) uses this device to allow Luther to reminisce privately about his father, who was emotionally unavailable and manipulative. He spent many nights sitting alone in a movie theatre and then reported to his wife that he was having an affair. She says, "I forgive you," believing that unconditional love is what she must give. Of course, his father is bitterly disappointed by this response. Luther has followed him and knows that the story isn't true. Thus is internalized a way of behaving that kills all chance for real intimacy. Luther learns his lesson well.
A story about a controlling person unable to bend to the needs of his wife and son, and yet honestly loving them inordinately, might be merely a dry recitation if it weren't for the beauty of Bezos's writing and for her ability to show us how trapped Luther is by his background and nature. Bezos writes with complete control of her material. She makes the reader eager to know what's next. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The central irony of the novel is that Luther's sincere efforts to protect his family from pain result in silent suffering, deepening resignation and simmering resentment. Discouraged by the "unfathomable Rube Goldberg workings that controlled my mind and heart," Luther steadfastly refuses to share his own broken heart, the result of unresolved ambivalence over his own childhood relationship with his father. Rather than confront his own pain and share his anguish with his wife, Luther resolves to assiduously maintain his meticulously-constructed home. As a craftsman, Luther is without peer; as a husband and father, he fails terribly.
Repressed and vigilant about any show of emotion, Luther cannot find a means to share himself with his son. Whether it be home repair or instructions about shaving, Luther awkwardly flails about in trying to connect with his son. Direct, honest, authentic talk never is a possibility. Consequently, the son quietly rebels; even Elliot's gentle acts of rebellion are cries for recognition, pleas for connection.Read more ›
I found this book to be very powerful and I think it would lead to great discussions in the context of a book group.
MacKenzie Bezos writes in a very engaging style and clearly did her research for this book. I'm looking forward to reading more books from her.
~The Rebecca Review
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a parent, I was deeply drawn to Luther's narrative. Like so many of us, Luther struggles to overcome the influence of his father as he navigates everyday life with his wife and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by S. Rockefeller
Luther Albright sounds like Mr. Amazon. Wonder what earthquake MacKenzie is referring to metaphorically that makes Luther's wife grow distant, etc.?!Published 23 months ago by B. Greeley
This is a well-crafted, thoughtful story about a repressed person. McKenzie knows her character well even though his future is rather bleak.Published on August 20, 2013 by nancy english
Good writer - could make anything sound interesting. I like her writing, but the story was a bit uninteresting. Luther was so - too - introspective. Read morePublished on August 7, 2013 by Greta R. Wells
This is a beautifully written and engaging book. The central character/narrator is a compelling and in many ways poignant figure. Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Jonathan J. Prinz
Interesting study of human behavior. Got the book after seeing her on Charlie Rose on PBS, and will definitely read her new bookPublished on July 7, 2013 by Katharine E. Aspray
I got tired of being inside his head. I rarely become bored with well written literature no matter the subject or length. Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by Amazon Customer
first of all, this is not a boring book. the narrator, luther albright, writes with such a sense of impending doom that it seems certain his life will come crashing around him at... Read morePublished on November 30, 2008 by Blakely