The Daredevils

Gary Amdahl. Counterpoint/Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-59376-629-0
Existential questions are continually debated in this muddled novel from Amdahl (Visigoth), which takes place in America in the early 20th century. As a foreign war brews, union organizers are beginning to flex their muscles. Meanwhile, Charles Minot, born to a wealthy family, ponders where his place is in life, in his family, and in the universe. Living in San Francisco, Charles has an auspicious start in life as a well-known boy soprano who performs classical music with his mother. As an adult, he runs a theater (where he also performs), meeting an actress named Vera with a millworking background who is caught up in the burgeoning worker's movement. Some time after the theater is bombed—which may have originated in union dissatisfaction—Charles's father sets him up in Minnesota to mediate problems between wheat farmers and businessmen. Vera, accompanying him, becomes more drawn to union politics. Though there are some interesting themes—can a man of privilege really understand the plight of the working poor? How far can one go to sacrifice for the common good?—there's too much going on here, and the myriad philosophical ruminations and confusing dream-like passages undermine the story. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-61902-766-4
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