IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING: A Novel ~Austin Ratner
You will want to read this book – I am sure of it, as it is such an enjoyable read and Austin Ratner has such a powerful way with words. IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING went everywhere with me for 2 full days; I could not put it down and I am giving it as birthday gifts to two very good friends and writers because it is such a great read.
Writers need to read other good wordsmiths.
It is a father-son saga, with Jewish circumference. It is an immigration story and the follow up of the lives that came after. It is a medical story about all the aches and pains that remove love from your journey and forces an individual into new directions. And then, there is that persistent truth that one cannot live another’s life for them. What makes brothers get along/bond? What do they teach each other if they are honest and able to communicate well?
IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING is divided into three parts which are centered on a specific character; the first part is the story of the Father, the second part is the story of one of that Father’s sons, and the third part is the story of the two sons, a road trip, and the eventual atonement.
The back story of the Father comes at the reader like a hyperactive child who is behaving similarly to a random sniper attack or in machine gun mode. For a while I did not know if the boy was 4 years old or 13 and making his moves. I did know that the stories of his mother’s death at a young age, his father’s abuse towards the boys and his own drive were in play constantly as he grieved, raged, and grew. He is brilliant and works very diligently to achieve his goals and the rewards he dreams for do come his way and helping hands, minds and love are to be his, but only for a brief interlude. It is a powerful format and the stories I have read by these male authors this summer have been amazingly deft at this style of producing satisfying stories.
I loved the words in this story. They just would not let me go and I would flip back 4 pages to look something up and find the subtle innuendo of explanation. I got out my Yiddish dictionary! The name calling and “boys will be boys” slang and gaming were near perfection. It did not hurt that it was so Cleveland, where I spent 3 years in high school being an outsider, and that on the road trip the fellows were headed to my hometown and stopped at the side trips, diners, and hikes that I know so well. The boys caught the surface of the far west, but missed the depth altogether and that made me laugh.
This is Austin Ratner’s second novel. He has won a number of awards for his first, THE JUMP ARTIST, and he was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, received an MD degree from John Hopkins School of Medicine, and is currently the clinical assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine living in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons. If he does surgery the way he writes, then I am sure I would trust him as much as his mother does.
Read IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING
This was a book sent to me by TLC online book tours for review and Reagan, Arthur Books, Little, Brown and Company Publishers. I enjoyed reading this book and hope you will also; I highly recommend IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING.
I am only reviewing books these days that I consider 4 or 5 stars, I occasionally do a 3 star review because I think other folks will like the book more than I did, I am still not reviewing the 1 or 2 star books because someone spent a long time producing that book and does not need my unhelpful words in promoting their efforts.