Novemberfest

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In Germany in 1953, a seventeen-year-old American soldier serving in the occupation falls in love for the first time - with the beautiful, war-torn country, and with a sophisticated (and married) woman. Thirty-five years later, the force of this enchantment has lifted Glen Cady from a bleak job on a Michigan assembly line into a world he never could have imagined as a young PFC. A professor of German literature at a small New Hampshire college, he is married, with a beloved daughter in nursery school, and ...
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Overview

In Germany in 1953, a seventeen-year-old American soldier serving in the occupation falls in love for the first time - with the beautiful, war-torn country, and with a sophisticated (and married) woman. Thirty-five years later, the force of this enchantment has lifted Glen Cady from a bleak job on a Michigan assembly line into a world he never could have imagined as a young PFC. A professor of German literature at a small New Hampshire college, he is married, with a beloved daughter in nursery school, and presumably living the life of his dreams. But his devotion as a teacher, he now discovers, doesn't ensure tenure in an unpopular subject, or in an academic climate ruled by strident personal politics. At the same time, his age and suddenly uncertain prospects make him suspect, in the eyes of his wife, as both husband and father. Winter is closing in around him, along with these brutal realizations, and Glen gradually, irresolutely, succumbs to the advances of one of his students, a young woman estranged from her own marriage. While their affair rekindles his youthful exuberance, it also jeopardizes even further the life he has so painstakingly invented for himself. And just as the Berlin Wall comes down - forever transforming the country he once knew - he must relive those long-ago days in Germany when he learned the glorious pain of love and its loss. In this rapidly changing world, Glen Cady makes his embattled way toward redemption by reconciling, at last, his past and present with the future. And with Novemberfest, Theodore Weesner has written an expansive, deeply moving novel in which the wonder of middle age is measured with bittersweet wisdom against the passions of youth.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weesner (The Car Thief; The True Detective) has a deceptively unemphatic style that packs a strong punch-rather like the German beer his protagonist Glen Cady drinks as a teenage U.S. soldier in occupied Germany 40 years ago, which spoils his first night out with a beautiful married woman. Cady is an incorrigible romantic, swept away by Hedy, by the mystique of German literature and landscape. Later, as an uneasily married college professor in New England, still teaching his beloved German (but facing loss of tenure), he is swept away again, dangerously, by a young German student. Cady could be an absurd bore, but the fact that he is instead an infinitely touching figure is a tribute to Weesner's uncanny ability to get into the skin of a vulnerable male whose world is always out of kilter with reality because reality is not what interests him: his little daughter, somewhat of a loner herself, is close to him in ways his hardheaded wife could never be. Despite the failure of old college colleagues to help him out and his wife's cold push for divorce after he blurts out his small infidelities, Cady soldiers on gallantly, still sometimes dreaming of his Hedy, achieving a kind of apotheosis as he witnesses, on a return visit to Germany, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and all it symbolized. The almost unbearable tensions Weesner generates in this bittersweet tale are due to the complete identification he achieves with Cady and the skill with which he makes the two women who so obsess him profoundly alluring by their voices alone. His novel is that rarity, a genuinely touching romance for grownups. (Nov.)
From The Critics
Eschewing post-modernist whimsy, Nabokovian playfulness or Joycean pyrotechnics, Weesner aims straight for the drama of real life, telling his tale with a minimum of technical fuss in simple, direct prose that is yet capable of evocative imagery and surprising jolts of emotion and eros . . . Novemberfest is the epitome of the mid-list good read, a trenchant novel of midlife crisis, a painful tale about the trap of life-with a golden ending that seems as miraculous and incredible as the dropping of the Iron Curtain itself.
Library Journal
Glen Cady is a middle-aged professor of German, "tenure-track but probably untenurable." Time is running out: some translations and a handful of scholarly articles count for little in the eyes of his colleagues, even though he is a superior teacher. His wife has no patience with his scruples, and his obsessive attachment to their young daughter separates them still further. Glen was happiest in life as a young soldier in occupied Germany, where he conducted a long, torrid, but ultimately doomed affair with a married German woman. Now, in his misery he embraces his prize student, a young German wife who is desperately lonely in her new home. His life falls apart, and he loses job, marriage, and daughter. But in his despair, Cady discovers unexpected strengths and forges a new life for himself. This affecting novel by the author of Winning the City (S. & S., 1990) is surprisingly upbeat, for it catches not only our vulnerability to passion and self-doubt but our capacity to bounce back. Highly recommended.-David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874517668
  • Publisher: University of New Hampshire Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Series: Hardscrabble Books-Fiction of New England
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 397
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

THEODORE WEESNER's books include Winning the City (1991) and The Car Thief (1972). He lives in Portsmouth, NH and teaches at Emerson College in Boston.
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