"A properly edited page was a thing of beauty," thinks Ned Ayre, the protaganast of Ward Just's new novel The Eastern Shore. Contemplating his life dedicated to the news, trying to write his memoirs, Ned feels like an archaelogist 'assembing fragments of a dead civilization." The man who worked magic with his blue pencil, editing other's stories, could not create order from the threads of his life, his 'Rosebud' moment eluding him.
Ned's love of the news is an obsession that divides him from his parents and his lovers, a love affair that ends badly as the newspapers decline and close, no longer valued or profitable.
In this introspective novel, Just probes the stories of our life: the fictions we weave, like Ned's Uncle Ralph and his WWI stories that never happened, but which he believes happened; the untold truth buried because it does not make good press; the stories that should never have been told and ruin lives.
I was left feeling mournful and contemplative by this novel. I understood Ned's longing to break out of his small town, a place of changeless comfort and sureity. And I mourned his inability to make sense of his life.
Some will say there is no plot action, too much of the story is shared through story telling. But I was compelled by the novel; it recalled to mind many who dedicate their lives to something they believe in only to find after 40 years that what they loved has become meaningless and unvalued. How could anyone live without the news, young Ned thinks in amazement. Yet he lives into a world where the news and the great stories are left behind. Change betrays us all.
Between the lines we come to understand what Ned learned the hard way: the paper-thin line between all the news we need to know and all the news; how factual reporting can cross the line into the sacred and the private.
I requested this book through Edelweiss because several years ago I read Ward Just's novel An Unfinished Season and it left a lasting impression on me. I am even more impressed with Just after reading this book.
I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbaised review.
The Eastern Shore
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication October 18, 2016