Novemberfest

Theodore Weesner, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (386p) ISBN 978-0-679-43099-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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