THE WISEST MAN IN AMERICA by W.D. Wetherell

THE WISEST MAN IN AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 After a couple of works with mixed results (Chekhov's Sister, 1990, etc.), Wetherell hits his stride as he comes home to his native New Hampshire to investigate elusive truth and wisdom. This is the story of two men: Max Thomas, a respected newspaper columnist, and Mr. Ferris, a New Hampshire logger. In 1952, the New Hampshire primary began generating national interest, and Max decided to make it the subject of his debut column in ``the country's most prestigious newspaper.'' After Max's car got stuck on a lonely dirt road, he stumbled upon Ferris, and the two spent the day discussing everything from his WW II service to his extensive self-education to ``his conception of himself as a totally free man.'' Max had the foresight to see that the nation was moving in Ferris's direction and asked Ferris who he thought would win the primary. Ferris bet on Ike, and Max followed through with a column containing Ferris's prediction every primary thereafter. The novel takes place before the 1996 election. Much has happened to them during their decades of friendship, and in clear and direct language, the two recount the relevant moments of their lives and how these experiences shaped who they are today: their imperfect families; the deaths of their wives; the failure of Ferris's friendship with a Russian POW; Max's discovery that his revered marine-biologist wife had falsified data to prove the fragility of the sea; Ferris's fond remembrances of a brief and secret affair with Max's wife; and Max's realization that his supposedly faithful wife was not all she seemed. These moments lead both of these opinionated men to admit that they don't know a thing compared to all that they once purported to know. And this newfound wisdom frees them in the most surprising way. Potent commentary, as two classically American men struggle to keep their sense of alienation from their country at bay.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-87451-700-1
Page count: 242pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994




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