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Friday, June 25, 2004 :::

Big If by Mark Costello

Why I read it: Because there was a favorable quote by Jonathan Franzen on the cover, and because the jacket touted various awards it was up for.

What I think about it: Ostensibly about the Secret Service Agency, this novel is really a series of character portraits and a pile of metaphors about jobs as identity, morality, paranoia in the modern age, and the unpredictability of human nature. I'm sure I didn't catch nearly all the connections or parallels that Mark Costello weaves throughout the thinly plotted story, but he writes with humor and insight and a grounded sense of reality that was very satisfying. And although the "plot" is not really the focus of the book, it still was an enjoyable story. It was certainly illuminating about the Secret Service and the motivations of the people who work there, as well as the effects of the stress such a job would create, but if you're reading it for those reasons then you're really missing the point. It didn't really grab me emotionally that often, but I appreciated the careful character development and I definitely approve of the stark, abrubt, open-ended realism of the climax, and especially of the final page, which seemed so entirely appropriate and yet painfully revealing about human nature and the American culture. I'm deep, yo.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 1:09 AM :: #


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