Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: Truth Like the Sun

Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch

I read about this book on Crosscut awhile back and when I started my new job with its long commute, I found that this was one of few fiction titles on my "to read" list so I downloaded. It is an interesting book - one story line covers the 1962 World's Fair - beginning with the opening party at the new Space Needle and the lead up to and then the fair itself and a police corruption scandal happening simultaneously. The other story line occurs in 2001. A central figure in both stories is Roger Morgan, a fictional character known as "Mr. Seattle" - in this fictionalized history, he was primarily responsible for the World's Fair after his visionary and mentor passed away. In 2001, as a reporter new to town is assigned to write a retrospective piece about Morgan, now 70, he on a whim, decides he's going to run for mayor after a life of advising other politicians but never publically holding office himself.

The flipping back and forth, the unfolding corruption story, the revelations the journalist uncovers as she digs deeper, all make you think that there will be some big reveal at the end. A crime, murder perhaps, or maybe even Morgan at the center of (or the mastermind?) of the corruption? Not to spoil, but, nothing really happens in this book. Politics, the death of print journalism, the fictional recounting of the staging of a major event in the city's history, but at the same time, a lot of nothing. In 1962 it's pretty clear early on that Morgan will probably not get married (though he's engaged as the book starts) but later revelations that he has several children are almost a non-event. I think something must have gotten lost in the editing.

Anyhow, the true star of this book is Seattle itself. This is what made me love this book. To hear the descriptions, as well as the characters' experiences (the new-to-Seattle journalist exasperated by the rain or Mr. Seattle's reminiscing of how things were - or the potential yet to come) it's just wonderful. I really enjoyed all the descriptive language and it's really given me a brand new appreciation for "my" town. I may not be Mr. Seattle and it may have been 40 years since I lived there, but I love Seattle and I loved how this book portrayed it. Had this book taken place in Portland or Bellevue, I probably wouldn't have found it nearly as interesting. But in the end, I felt mostly satisfied with the story and I would recommend it. Just be prepared to take some time digesting it.

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