Sunriseby Robert Crooke
With its perfectly rendered physical setting, Sunrise draws readers
Sunrise is a tale of illusion, loss and renewal in a tragic age. Set in Manhattan, and in the fashionable beach towns of Long Island's East End, it follows the interwoven lives of three friends from the late 1960s to the present-exploring the confluence of art, commerce, politics and celebrity.
With its perfectly rendered physical setting, Sunrise draws readers into the reality of place and the universality of myth in a daring, Modernist style.
Stephen Dahl, the narrator of Sunrise, is a troubled child of the 60s, an expatriate American author living in Paris, an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but failed to recover his spiritual equilibrium. Watching the horrors of September 11th from his Paris apartment, he is struck by renewed patriotism which vanishes quickly as America plans to invade Iraq. But he is called home in the Spring of 2003 by the death of his former best friend and by the chance to see his former lover, the widow of his old friend. Thus begins Stephen's journey to a past that reveals complex layers of moral and spiritual responsibility to his country, his countrymen and himself. Stephen confronts an uncertain future by accepting the moral limits of despair and the power of compassion.
Fiona de Merell
J. Peter Bergman
It becomes increasingly obvious in Sunrise that Crooke would like to prompt similar reflections about culture and politics in America after 9/11, especially as these affected and continue to affect those who grew up in the late '60s, many of whom defined themselves by the music of the time-lyrics appear extensively throughout the book, articulating characters' experience with love and loss.
Crooke's got an engrossing plot line, a narrative (with a shocking ending) that alternates between Stephen's present-day activities, once he's called back to the States by news of the death of a former long-time friend, and recollections that go back 30 years, when he met the oddly charming, self-inventing Jay Gatsby-like Tom Westlake in college.
Though at times too much diary-like detail seems to infuse itself into Stephen's remembered conversations, nostalgia trumping selectivity and the fact that toward the end, the novel references itself-Stephen has begun writing a book about his Montauk past to be called . . . Sunrise-autobiographical impulses do not an autobiography make. And if Sunrise seems to approximate memoir, the only valid concern for the reader should be the way in which Crooke organizes theme, character, setting and plot.
With the exception of a couple of didactic passages-screeds against current administration policies abroad andknocks at how "rational land-use arguments" on the East End have failed to prevent sleepy villages being turned into white plastic, chrome and glass dune blight-Sunrise sustains reader curiosity about how Stephen turned his life around.
Once a promising guy, but aimless alcoholic "out of control," he manages eventually to affect "a course of quiet comfort and modest accomplishment." Crooke also seeds his tale with hints of further dark revelations, even after major illusions are unveiled.
The overall theme is significant-the state of the country after 9/11, for individuals and for the nation. Considerations include thoughts about "the value of friends in a careless life," art and celebrity, and, of course, for those who know and love the east End, particularly East Hampton, the challenge inherent in the critical observation that a still beautiful area, where once there was a "seamless blend of farmers, artists, and investment bankers," has become "a jumble of tourists, Fifth Avenue stores, and traffic."
In Fitzgerald's day, as Stephen observes, the conviction was "there was something more important than any single person," and that "betraying the ideal, the community, was the worst of sins." But for Stephen's generation, the '60s, failure was "betraying yourself." Though Sunrise does not say so overtly, it implies that a country's past, like an individual's past, may offer up values worth reconsidering.
His book is called Sunrise, Stephen says, because "The sun rises first on the East End." But, Hemingway notwithstanding, the full phrase, from Ecclesiastes, may be what Stephen has more deeply in mind at the end of the novel as he gazes out at the sea at sunset-"The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to his place where he arose."
In the words of both Alexis and Stephen, life and art contain "hope and disappointment." The future can come into focus only by understanding both. The author draws a parallel between Stephen's need to face decisions that cannot be undone and the nation's need, post 9/11, to look to its moral conscience. Mr. Crooke's talent and skill invite the reader to think about larger issues while enjoying a good story.
The novel's title-"Sunrise"-is the name of a principal highway on Long Island, and a metaphor for new beginnings, new lives. Mr. Crooke, who now lives in Connecticut, began his career as a sports reporter for the Long Island Press, and served as North American press spokesman for the Reuters international news agency.
Given the author's knowledge of the territory, it would have been nice if the book jacket photo showed one of Montauk's characteristic stone breakwaters instead of an unfamiliar pier with a pavilion at its sea-end. There are no such dislocations in the text. All through the novel, Mr. Crooke portrays the East End with all of its heartrending contradictions: natural beauty tainted by urban sprawl; glorious sunrises over motel parking lots littered with beercans.
- iUniverse, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >