Backward-Facing Man

Don Silver, Author
Don Silver, Author . Ecco $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-081928-6
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-0-06-081929-3
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A dark elegy for '60s campus radicalism and its turn toward violence in the years that followed, Silver's debut novel is a complex, beautifully turned-out thriller. Set in 1999–2000 and told by trust-funded failed writer Winnie Prescott, the narrative (which includes a role for Winnie's childhood friend Patty Hearst) centers on Lorraine Nadia, who has recently died, and her legal secretary daughter, Stardust. Shortly after her mother's death, Stardust encounters a disheveled man on a Philadelphia commuter train who notes cryptically that "Your mother and I, we go way back." He turns out to be local factory owner Chuck Puckman, whose younger, more radical self was a lover of Lorraine's—as was Frederick Keane, the infamous Volcano Bomber, who remains in hiding. The novel shuttles back and forth between Chuck, Lorraine and Frederick's eventually diverging paths; Chuck's present struggles to save his manufacturing business after an environmental disaster; and Stardust's efforts to piece together the story and search for Frederick. Silver handles all of the elements cleanly, writing convincingly in the voice of Winnie, who has never been good at much of anything. The plot has real bite—no matter what one's political persuasion. (Sept. 1)

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