Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru, With the holiday weekend coming up, it will be difficult to get to my regular reading but if you have something compelling, not too long, and fast moving, I could devote some time to it. Any thoughts? Harried Holiday Reader

Dear Harried, Yes, I have just the book for you-THE GOOD FATHER by Noah Hawley. My friend Camille Purcell had spoken highly of it and, as I always value her recommendations, I began reading it immediately, finishing it three hours later. Camille was right once again. In the opening chapter we meet Paul Allen, a respected rheumatologist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, his wife, and young sons as they follow on TV news of the assassination of a very popular U.S. Presidential candidate. Minutes later Paul gets the grim news that the alleged assassin in custody is Paul's son from a previous marriage, a popular, somewhat detached nineteen year-old who has dropped out of college and been traveling across country for the last year. The divorce many years earlier had put Paul and the boy on opposite coasts with little sustained contact. .Experiencing guilt and remorse, he begins to question decisions made long ago as he tries to defend a son the world clearly sees as a pariah. Using an interesting device, the author takes us into the minds of Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, Squeaky Fromme, and John Hinckley, Jr. in an attempt to explain the thought process of a political assassin. Whether it is nature, nurture, chance- we are left with an overwhelming sense of pity for this good father who loves a son he cannot truly know or understand.

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