Thursday, January 29, 2009
The History of Now
In 1896 an unknown arsonist burned down the Melville Block of Grandville, Massachusetts, after which a small group of well-to-do men banded together to rebuild that block bigger and better than ever. One addition to the block was The Phoenix, an ornate theater that houses first traveling operas and revues and later becomes home to the cinematic greats. One family's fate is irretrievably linked with that theater.
In The History of Now, we focus on various members of the DeVries family through a year in their lives. What makes this book so fascinating is it's exploration of the idea that focusing on one family, doesn't mean following them only. We spend time with a young man in the slums of Bogota, Columbia; a runaway slave on the underground railroad; and a 17th century Dutch family; all of whom have a direct influence on events in this small town family's life.
Klein, who coauthored Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a philosophy professor. This book is a look at cause and effect and the idea that every decision and action has an effect on subsequent events. The title comes from the idea that if every effect is also a cause, then what really is now?
The History of Now is ideal for book clubs, philosophy buffs and anyone who just likes a good story with believable characters. This is one of the best books I've read in years and I look forward to more from the author.
- I'm human, so I've got some issues, but all things considered I guess I'm reasonably normal. My parents are still married. My best friends are my sisters...okay, so I'm normal for the 1850's whatever. I'm opinionated and nerdy. I'm walking the line between tweener-style pop culture love (witness my ever-burning New Kids love and inexplicable Twilight obsession) and elitist culture snob (I can't seem to get enough 19th century British Lit and historical biographies) but, after 30 years, I'm finally learning not to give a crap what anyone else thinks about me. Oh, and those are my feet in the picture. The socks were made by a friend.