Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Chester Chronicles by Kermit Moyer

Only rarely does a book come along that allows me to instantly connect with its main character. I could probably name a half a dozen with chapters that rang true, but I cannot think of another novel which convinced me that my life – with all its foibles and peculiarities -- fit into the mainstream of 20th century America. In Kermit Moyer’s first novel, The Chester Chronicles, only the epilogue stands outside my experience. However, I know that experience lay all before me.

Chester Patterson’s birth occurred only a few years before mine. So we grew up during the 50s, attended college in the 60s, experienced the tragedy of November 22, 1963, learned to drive, dealt with the obsession for girls, and tiptoed through first experiments with our earliest heart throbs.

This novel is a Künstlerroman of the first order. Except for the clearly 20th century American idioms, it compares favorably with James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. From the first pages, the reader recognizes this is a tale of Chester’s growth into an artist – a writer. Literary references abound in Chet’s college classes, his interactions and discussions with friends, and his attempt to make sense of the world.

His relationship with his father remained close until the final pages of the novel in most respects, but with a healthy dash of distance so common in those days. I especially appreciated the scenes of Chet’s father giving driving lessons, although, I must admit, my Dad yelled a bit more than his. Chet’s transgressions also paralleled mine – frightening while in the midst, but laughable even days later.

This novel should arrive in bookstores in February, 2010. Make a note. Pre-order a copy, camp out if you have to, but make sure you get this novel, and savor it as much as I did. 5 stars

--Chiron, 12/15/09

No comments: