Monday, January 12, 2009

Going to See the Elephant by Rodes Fishburne

Flap copy from ARC:
"Slater Brown lays siege to San Francisco like Achilles circling Troy- until he crashes headlong into reality. Out of money and prospects, he lands a job at a moribund weekly newspaper called the Morning Trumpet- and, as if by fate, is given a very special parting gift from a moonlighting mystic. Suddenly Slater has an exclusive on every story in the city.

With his uncanny knack for finding scoops, he's bringing the Trumpet back to life, infuriating a corrupt mayor, and falling in love with the woman destined to become his muse. But it is the astonishing inventor Milo Magnet- a man obsessed with harnessing the weather- who will force Slater to navigate the most dangerous straits. As storm clouds gather literally overhead, Slater will become at once a pawn, a savior, and the last best hope for a city that needs him- and his knack for the truth- more than ever before."

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it was a delight from start to finish. Slater Brown is an unlikely hero, a writer convinced he could be the world's best writer if only he could get the right works on the page in the right order. He considers himself well-read, though his efforts are limited to the first sentences of great books from which he extrapolates the quality of the rest of the unread work. Despite his many eccentricities, Slater Brown's love for San Francisco, for the rhythms of the city, lend him an unexpectedly endearing quality.

As Slater's writing takes off, he becomes beloved by the citizens of the city he loves- the ultimate reward for any journalist. His optimism in the face of overwhelming odds is a marked contrast to the rest of the staff on his newspaper, but they gradually come to share his positive outlook for the future. When his efforts to please both his love and his readers collide, Slater must face fundamental questions about the core of his being that lead him to uncomfortable answers.

This book is a quirky and interesting coming of age tale. Fishburne is a master storyteller, and I'll certainly be recommending this novel to others. 4.5 stars.

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