The History of Now

The History of Now

4.5 2
by Daniel Klein
     
 

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Small, almost imperceptible changes are rippling through the New England village of Grandville, altering it in ways its inhabitants cannot yet imagine. Laced through a narrative of one recent year in Grandville's history are stories that reach back to a 17th century family in Rotterdam, and 18th century migration by a farmer's lonely son in the Massachusetts Bay

Overview

Small, almost imperceptible changes are rippling through the New England village of Grandville, altering it in ways its inhabitants cannot yet imagine. Laced through a narrative of one recent year in Grandville's history are stories that reach back to a 17th century family in Rotterdam, and 18th century migration by a farmer's lonely son in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and a 19th century underground railway journey by a gifted runaway slave. Each episode comes to bear on the lives of Grandville's current residents. Does every event, no matter how small or distant in the past influence all events that follow?

Editorial Reviews

Review - Kirkus Reviews
"How the past influences what follows, and how self-understanding inspires broader comprehension of all things: These are the themes of this gently philosophical family chronicle. Klein channels his inner Thornton Wilder in this piecemeal history of a New England village (Grandville, Mass.), which combines the family-album features of Our Town with the inconclusive fatalism of The Bridge of San Luis Rey."
Booklist - David Pitt
"This is one of those novels you sink into, like a familiar and comfortable chair. Klein writes in clear, precise language, crafting characters who reveal themselves gradually, telling a small-town story that will resonate with every reader, even the big city types. This story is written in the present tense, with the author/narrator occasionally speaking directly to the reader--a device that feels just right. In fact, everything about the novel, from its cast to its setting to its
March 2009 - Publishers Weekly
"A charming philosophical lesson in this story of destiny and history colliding in a fictional New England town. Blending the present-day story with tidbits from Grandville history, Klein brings the town vividly to life. As the drama unfolds, the actors remind us that destiny is writ in history."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013742758
Publisher:
The Permanent Press
Publication date:
01/12/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
296
File size:
469 KB

Meet the Author

Daniel Martin Klein (born 1939 in Wilmington, Delaware) is an American writer of fiction, non-fiction, and humor. His most notable work is Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar co-written with Thomas Cathcart. It was a New York Times bestseller and is translated into 26 languages.

Klein went to school at Harvard College where he received a B.A. in philosophy. After a brief career in television comedy, he began writing books, ranging from thrillers and mysteries to humorous books about philosophy. He lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and is married to Freke Vuijst, American correspondent for the Dutch newsweekly, 'Vrij Nederland'.

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The History of Now 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
allisonmariecat More than 1 year ago
Daniel Klein's novel, The History of Now, is an ingenious philosophical examination of cause and effect and, at the same time, an engaging story of a small-town family. That Klein manages to execute both premises successfully is impressive indeed. The New England village of Grandville has been the home of generations of the deVries family; Wendell, who never wanted to leave the projection booth of the theater-turned-cinema, his daughter Franny, a doubt-ridden artist, and his granddaughter Lila, whose lack of ambition is truly impressive. Klein dips far into the family's past (as far back as the 1600s in The Netherlands) to examine the causes of the current situation and to ask the question, "What is now?" If events are shaped by causes and produce effects, which are in turn causes to other effects (and so on), then is 'now' the current moment or does it encompass all the causes that came before and the effects that will come after? For those less interested in the philosophical bent, the small-town/family drama that unfolds has more than enough to hold the reader's attention. Wendell, whose disastrous marriage has left him alone (except for his dog, a charming character) and clinging to the movie house of his childhood, begins to open up and find love again. At the same time, his daughter, Franny, is headed toward a breakdown as she obsesses over the unjustness of the war in Iraq and struggles to bring meaning to a vapid community theater production. As if that weren't enough, his granddaughter, Lila, is smoking pot and seems to have lost direction. When Lila shows interest in her roots (by way of a revelation that Grandville was once home to a black family named deVries), Wendell is delighted to investigate. An unrelated (for the moment) storyline brings Hector, a young Colombian, closer to Grandville. Klein has woven these plots (and subplots involving other Grandville residents) into a graceful picture of a small town, the past that has shaped it, and the events that continue to unfold with glimpses into its future. A couple of jarring notes: Hector's story pulled me out of Grandville. It's obvious that he will be important in shaping Grandville events, but since his perspective is left out once he reaches Grandville, I really felt the payoff for being pulled out of the story wasn't worth it. In addition, the war in Iraq was a bit intrusive. I think it's very difficult to work current events into a novel, and while some references (Franny's protest group) are central to the plot, the references became a bit too much. And since the war isn't even over, they are already outdated (with criticism of a former President). However, neither of these is enough to lower my rating by more than a half-star. This is an excellent read that combines philosophy with small-town quirks and the search for meaning.