Friday, May 07, 2010

The Lake Shore Limited, by Sue Miller

When I saw this book at the library, I almost didn't pick it up. I was thinking some previous book by this author had left a bad taste in my mouth, but I couldn't remember which. I decided to get it anyway, and I am delighted that I did! It was one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is honest, thought provoking, human, difficult, unhappy and happy and realistic and good.

The entire book revolves around the play, The Lake Shore Limited, which is about a terrorist attack on a train in Chicago. The book examines the play and its effects from the point of view several sets of people, all of whose lives become intertwined. Leslie's brother Gus, the playwright's boyfriend, was killed in 911. Leslie introduces Sam to Billy, the playwright. Sam's wife died of cancer. Rafe, the lead actor in the play, has a wife dying of Lou Gherig's disease. Doesn't sound like the making of a very happy book, and indeed, it is not a happy book--and yet it is. It looks hard at tough choices and the aftermath of those choices. I liked it very much. The characters are well-defined with good and bad points, and all thoughtful people. They are not the horrible callous people so many current novels seem to feature.

I went back and looked at the list of books by Sue Miller and could not discover why I thought I didn't like her--I must have mixed her up with someone else. Now I am anxious to read more of her books.

My daughter just reminded me that I didn't like one with a woman remembering her days in a hippie house that ended with an awful murder and contemplating adultery in her current life, While I Was Gone. UGH! I knew I had a bad taste in my mouth! NOW I'm not sure if I want to read more or not. One excellent, one horrible. OH dear, who will I know whether to read more?

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