Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wise Men

Stuart Nadler
Wise Men

Little, Brown, 2013

Father of the narrator of the story, Hilly Wise, Arthur Wise became rich overnight. Small-time lawyer, Wise and his partner Robert Ashley has represented victims of the crashed plane, and won a class action lawsuit against the Boston airline.

In 1952 Wise is making the first major acquisition - on the beach in the place called Bluepoint he buys a huge house. In the summer the whole family - Arthur, his wife Ruth and their son, 17-year-old Hilly - moved into this house. In the next house Robert settles in. Lawyers receive a big deal of offers, all airlines are afraid of this pair, and Wise gets richer with each passing hour. However, he becomes irritable, and does not talk much with his family, spending all his time in office. There is no telephone communication between the houses there, and Wise makes a black servant Lem Dawson carry documents from one home to another. Wise prohibits Hilly approach Dawson, thinking that blacks is nothing but trouble. Hilly himself spends his time freely before admission to a prestigious university. He is not particularly bright, not particularly pretty, plays baseball, but that ends his talents. No matter what his father said, and Hilly still decided to start friendly conversations with Dawson.

Things change for Hill when he saw for the first time a man and a girl about the same age with Hill came to Dawson. Girl, Savannah, is the niece of Dawson, and the man is her father. Savannah Ewing’s father once played professional baseball, and now mostly drinks, gambles and beats his daughter up. Dawson helps her niece with everything he can. Hill becomes obsessed with Savannah and, knowing how she lives, decides to help her. He collects things and food from his home, which Ruthie buys without purpose, loads them into the car and drives to the house of Ewings. But Savannah and her father Charles does not want to take anything from Hill, considering that they do not need charity.

Wise Men is a story of obsession. Possession also in the sense that once you started to read the novel, it is not impossible not to finish it, and after the end, it is impossible not to love it. It is a deep family story of a father and son, each possessed in its own way. Father is by aircrafts, although aircraft as such is of little interest. He is obsessed with the struggle for justice, but for such justice, which would be profitable as well. And planes generate income. In one chapter Hilly mentions that his father makes a profit on each take-off around the world.

Hilly Wise is obsessed with a girl from the past, with whom he had of all relations only a gentle kiss on the August night, and a common desire to sleep in the car. In the absence of other dreams in life, search for Savannah becomes his dream.

But both Wise deceive themselves. Hilly is obsessed with not with Savannah, but with only the moment of his youth, a fragment of the past. Wise Sr. under aircrafts is trying to hide his relationship to the closest person to him. Both Wises became hostages of something unattainable and missing, but this inaccessibility, it seems, is not their fault, but it just happened.

The first third of the book certainly is the strongest: the house on the edge of the ocean, with a strange servant, the poor girl and her father, with stolen documents, oppressive atmosphere. Nadler gave his narrator voice pure, innocent, shy, but with a lot of understanding.
In the story about the feelings are mixed the story about money, but Nadler does not cut from the shoulder. Money is always difficult, no matter how much they are of them, much or nothing at all. The author avoids morality that a huge amount of money brings unhappiness. People build their faith, not money.

The second part is at least the key, and the third, although it is weaker plot-wise, ends unexpectedly. One of the faults of the book is a plot twist in the third part. Arthur Wise himself was in a plane crash but survived. This allows Nadler to wrap up the plot, to show the vicissitudes of life, but such a move, for all its beauty, is too unvelievable. This somewhat breaks the general believabillity of the book.

Recently, the term "airplane reading", a book that you read once and throw it in the airport, is on the rise. Wise Men is airplane reading, but in another sense. This book is business class; first-rate prose.

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