NOVEMBERFEST by Theodore Weesner


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 A delicately moving story of a middle-aged man's search for meaning by the accomplished Weesner (Winning the City, 1990, etc.). In the late 1980s, Glen Cady's life is slowly crumbling. The 52-year-old professor of German literature has written only a few articles and translated some dissident East German texts; having no books to his credit, he is about to be denied tenure at a small New Hampshire college. The former factory worker's young wife is unamused by his impending failure, but an older student who reminds him of his first love is making it clear that she could relieve his tensions. If he makes any more poor decisions, Cady could lose the one person he truly loves--his four-year-old daughter. A hopeless romantic, Glen clings to the memory of his army service: The unworldly 17-year-old kid from Michigan was stationed during the early years of the Allied occupation in West Germany, where he had a torrid affair with an older, married German woman who opened his eyes to the wonders of love and intellectualism. Weesner alternates between the disintegration of Cady's present and the affair that inspired him to pursue the life he has led. In remarkably efficient prose, the author slowly turns up the heat on Glen. Before they realize it, readers find themselves caring deeply for this vulnerable dreamer, his child, his old flame, and even his cold wife. In his quiet desperation Cady resembles Mann's von Aschenbach in Death in Venice, and his weak ego mirrors the psyche of postwar Germany: self-awareness in the rubble, then division and confusion, followed by hope and reconciliation in the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Not for the attention-span-impaired, this leisurely, subtle fiction of the highest craftsmanship deserves to be lingered over and savored.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43099-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994