The Light of Common Dayby John Herman
It is spring, 1962./i>/i>
In The Weight of Love--chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 1995--John Herman dazzled readers with his stunning look into the contradictions and tragedies of modern love. Now he uses his same powers of language and observation in a spellbinding evocation of that most universal of human journeys, adolescence.
It is spring, 1962. Paul Werth, a junior at Highgate Academy, is smart, well-adjusted, adept at school and sports. But beneath the surface lie stresses and strains that threaten to tear him apart, the most disruptive of which is the death of his father the year before. Still coping with that loss, Paul must find his way among uncertain friends, the pressures of school, the aches of the heart, and a growing scandal over drugs. His loyalties may be dangerously misplaced, and the girl he thinks he loves has secrets that poison their relationship. Without the guidance of his father, with whom he shared a close bond, Paul struggles to bring his perceptions into line with the actualities of common day.
Faithfully capturing the feel of adolescence-its quicksilver changes of mood, its sense of the imminent amidst the ordinary--The Light of Common Day is a hypnotic, moving novel sure to enlarge John Herman's already growing reputation.
Paul Werth goes to Highgate, a prep school just north of Manhattan, where many of his classmates live, though he himself is from "the suburb" where the school is located. Paul is a sophomore, in the spring of 1962, a time, Herman announces, "when boys still wore their hair short and the United States was not at war in Vietnam and America had not yet heard of drugs or rebellion or failure. . . . `' Maybe so, but drugs are still one of the twin mainsprings making Herman's plot go round: Somebody is selling inside the school, and the headmaster is going to find out who. How could thoughtful, introspective Paul, a subtle thinker and omnivorous reader, conceivably be involved? Well, the second mainspring is that Paul's father died just 14 months before the book's openingan event that plunged Paul not only into girl trouble, homework trouble, and a hitting slump in baseball, but into wondering whether life might be "literally without meaning." He really could be drug-involved, in other words, not to mention that he's also friends with the devilishly cavalier Philip Richards, a character suspicious indeed. During the raveling of Paul's classically expectable fate, Herman is at his Fitzgeraldian best in describing parties, people's looks, the smells and feels of placesand the past. Very possibly best and truest in the bookand saddestis Paul's passionate, long-ago, grade-school love affair with little Cassandra, who only too soon. . . . But let that stay unsaid.
Herman has grown since his first book. Even working against the pitfalls of a wildly overused genre, he's able to bring in light, color, feeling, and life.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.97(w) x 8.57(h) x 1.06(d)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Catcher In the Rye meets Rebel Without A Cause, I discovered this book by chance and I couldn't put it down afterwards...a very good read.