Wednesday, May 13, 2015
So this attempt to engineer destiny is the set-up for Lydia Netzer's fun, quirky 2014 novel, How To Tell Toledo From The Night Sky. There's two ways to look at Sally and Bernice's plot: They're just looking out for and protecting their children. Both Bernice and Sally's parents got divorced when they were young, and so by arranging their kids' soulmates (albeit without the kids' knowledge), they're just trying to make sure they have happy lives. The other way, though, is that by trying to trick the fate of falling in love, they're actually ruining it. They're trying to have their fate and beat it too. So the question of the novel is, will it work?
So it's a novel about fate vs. free will, yes. But it's also about empirical evidence vs. blind faith, myth vs. truth, and about overcoming what you are sure you know to be true about the world when new "evidence" is presented. Finally, it's about learning how to be happy.
Our two star-crossed lovers, George and Irene, are both wonderful characters — flawed and neurotic and maddening. And their mothers are even worse.
I really dug this book for both its premise and for Netzer's writing. There are some beautiful, poetic, profound passages as often as there are hilarious, goofy one-liners. It's a book not to take too seriously, but to take seriously enough to truly imagine the possibilities presented with this cool premise.
Posted by Greg Zimmerman at 10:57 AM