Lover of History CL

Jonathan Dee, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-89919-946-7
This intelligent, astringent first novel by an editor of the Paris Review is a look at the convictions and commitments of three young Manhattanites. Diane Kendall is a radio engineer dissatisfied with her job at an all-news station and uncomfortable with the admiration of her roommate, Robert Warner, a history teacher at a private high school. Kendall's lover Julian, a handsome singer who's content to get by doing commercial jingles, can bring only superficial feelings to their relationship. (Dee never accords him the dignity of a surname.) When the U.S. secretary of state is assassinated while on a goodwill trip to South America, the ensuing war and media coverage of fighting abroad and protest at home directly and indirectly affect all three characters. Kendall becomes more involved in her work and savvier about relationships, which leads to her breakup with Kendall, who in turn belatedly grows in self-awareness. Warner's conviction that history is relevant to everyday life doesn't go over well with his privileged students; his growing disenchantment with U.S. policy leads him to renounce his country and his field of study. Dee's cool, detached writing style indicates the emotional distances among the characters and the veils they have drawn over their deepest feelings. That he succeeds in making the reader care about them is an indication of his considerable ability. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
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