Friday, July 10, 2009
Christopher Meeks's The Brightest Moon of the Century ~ Reviewed
The Brightest Moon of the Century (Paperback)
by Christopher Meeks
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: White Whisker Books (March 7, 2009)
In Christopher Meeks's "The Brightest Moon of the Century," Edward, a young Minnesotan, is blessed with an abundance of "experience"-first when his mother dies and next when his father, an encyclopedia salesman, shoehorns Edward into a private boys school where he's tortured and groomed. Edward needs a place in the universe, but he wants an understanding of women. He stumbles into romance in high school, careens through dorm life in college, whirls into a tornado of love problems as a mini-mart owner in a trailer park in Alabama, and aims for a film career in Los Angeles. Will his love for a Latina prove to be the one? In nine chapters, the reader experiences Edward's life from ages 14 to 45. This is the first novel from Christopher Meeks, which follows his highly acclaimed collections of short stories, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons."
Chris Meeks melds his mastery of short stories with a coming of age tale in his first novel. The reader is invited to follow Edward from his awkward and insecure youth into the often awkward and insecure middle years of his life. Each section of the novel covers the mushroom cloud events that shape Edward’s life and character, and each section reads a little like a snapshot, or stand alone short story. The story of the young Edward was familiar to me as he has appeared in Meeks prior short story compilations.
Moon is definitely a coming of age story but it doesn’t span a single summer or a handful of years. Instead it is a journey and very realistically portrayed one at that. After all, humans are creatures who hopefully never stop learning and change slowly into better people once they absorb some life lessons. Meeks has chosen some fascinating pivot points in Edward’s life, spending pages on the set up of a mini-mart and then resorting to mere paragraphs to narrate other huge life events.
Squeamish and sensitive readers should be aware of some language and quite a bit of sexuality. For example, Meeks pulls few punches when narrating Edward’s epiphany at a sperm bank.
Overall, Meeks tells a good story with believable characters. Readers who love melancholy voices should find quite a bit to like in Brightest Moon. Having just finished it I can say I'm happy for Edward's upbeat hope though the ending is less than happily ever after.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer