three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
59-July-Aug-2012
By: 
Jim Lynch
user_rating: 
0

748388.pngJim Lynch, an award-winning former journalist, writes about characters in the state of Washington, where he lives. His debut novel, The Highest Tide ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection Nov/Dec 2005), received the 2006 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. Border Songs ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2009) followed.

The Story: In 1962, Roger Morgan, a charming young businessman, organizes the World's Fair and tries to place Seattle on the map. Nearly forty years later, Morgan, now 70, decides to run for mayor in a city still reeling from the dot-com boom and bust and finish the job he began. Helen Gulanos, a single mother and ambitious new reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, dreams of winning a Pulitzer and is annoyed when she's assigned a fluff piece on the fair's 40th anniversary. But when she digs into archival sources and interviews Morgan's contemporaries, she uncovers startling information about Morgan's colorful past and the steps he took to bring the World's Fair to town.
Knopf. 272 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780307958686

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]aut and accomplished. Through sharp detail and incisive descriptions, the 1962 sections bring the era to life by conveying the gee-whiz-isn't-the-future-fantastic World's Fair vibe paired with the overhanging dread of nuclear annihilation prompted by the Cuban missile crisis." Jenny Shank

Independent (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] consummate stylist. He is also particularly skilled at describing the precarious times in which Roger flourished." Christian House

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Lynch presents the more recent chapters through the eyes of an ambitious muckraker pillaging Morgan's closets for skeletons, and it's the author's own journalistic eye for detail that turns the stereotypically gray city into something vibrantly colorful." Keith Staskiewicz

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"It's a well-worn framework, and the fascinating thematic sweep of the novel loses a bit too much ground to the procedurals of Helen's reporting and the workaday mechanisms of the plot. Lynch's gift is his light-handed way of bringing things up under the surface in these moments of spectacle." M. Allen Cunningham

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Lynch doesn'st quite succeed in making us engaged with [Helen], though he's clearly having fun depicting newsroom politics and editors. Roger, both young and old, takes hold of the book from its opening pages." Moira Macdonald

Critical Summary

In contrast to Lynch's previous novels, Truth Like the Sun, which jumps back and forth in time, is an urban story, filled with noisy streets, crowds, and metropolitan concerns. While critics enjoyed the novel as a whole, they found the chapters set in 1962 particularly evocative. The earlier year, notes the Seattle Times, "sparkles like an old-time midway, crammed with celebrity cameos, souvenir Champagne glasses and fast-talking men in hats; 2001 feels reflective and a little world-weary, a city once bitten and now twice shy." Through Lynch's skillful writing, readers can experience the unveiling of the Space Needle and feel the panic and dread brought on by the Cold War. Lynch, a native of Washington, loves his state, and it shows.