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jbradway

jbradway

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Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War

Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War - Deb Olin Unferth I'm wavering between 3 and 4 for Revolution. This is the second time I have to say that Unferth is a great writer - her pacing, her voice, her spare originality - but she skimps on plot and characterization. This might not be as fair a charge against a memoir, but she kind of left me dog-paddling about in a vast sea of nicely constructed sentences for the middle third of the book. It could be that this feeling was intentional, a mirroring of Deb and George's meanderings, but it's also a good way to lose a reader.Unferth is a great observer and commenter on the movement of people and things; she tracks the slight changes and the large, macro and micro, and then reports out. She does this as well in fiction as she does in fact. But she does not provide insight to internal shifts quite as well; neither in characters she creates nor the real people she encounters. As sympathetic travelers and sometime-workers through Central American revolutions in the '80's, the reader might expect to read some angst-y reaction to, say, violent acts in the name of a peaceful ideal. How does the revolutionary deal with the tragedy of stray bullets in a schoolyard? Is there ever that long, dark tea-time of the soul when they wonder if it's all worthwhile? As all of these revolutions eventually are swept aside, as they are, how do the combatants feel? Unferth doesn't tell you. Even lover George, about whom she should have greater insight, is flat.I will continue to read everything Unferth writes, I am sure. And though I've read two works of hers recently without giving her my highest marks, I'll continue to recommend her to other discriminating readers. My expectation is that she is the most likely of any of my current favorites to create something lasting and beautiful.