Ten degrees of separation
I have no idea how I am going to review this book. Frederick Reiken's Day for Night is so fantastically written, intricately complex, and incredibly sophisicated - I know I'm not going to do it justice. You'll just have to believe me that this is a terrific book. Though I know it's not for a lot of people, if you're the least bit tempted, try it. Reiken is one of the most talented writers I've read. So, where to start. Set in Florida, New Jersey, Utah and Israel, the novel is a series of 10 chapters, each narrated by a different character. Somehow Reiken weaves together the stories of seemingly unconnected people all with a thread of a link to a Polish man who was thought to be killed in a mass murder of 500 Jewish intellectuals as the Nazis advanced through Poland and Lithuania. We never really know if Jonah Rabinowitz was killed during this incident. But before he was killed, he acquired visas so that his daughter Beverly and his wife Hanna got out, through Japan of all places, to the United States. Beverly narrates the first chapter. She is a lovely and mysterious pediatrician on a Florida vacation with her boyfriend, David and his son, Jordan. On their last day there, they hook up with a guide, Tim, who takes them swimming with
manatees. Tim invites Bev to hear his band and introduces her to Dee, a young woman with a fabulous voice and a horribly troubled past. Jordan one summer joins his biologist father (who is suffering from leukemia) on a research trip studying coral reefs, where they meet Julia and her daughter Dara. Julia is Dee's aunt. Tim and Dee fly together to Utah to see Dillon, who was in a horrendous motorcycle accident in Israel and whose parents brought him home. Dee and Dillon's parents were members of a violent cult. Dee manages in Florida, but Dillon had escaped to Israel where he worked on a nature preserve. Where he met Vicki. She moved to Israel to escape the recently acquired, mold-infested home that made her desperately ill and ruined her veterinary career. Amnon is an Israeli soldier who, for most of the year, works on the preserve until he is accused of murdering a Palestinian and someone shoots and almost kills him for revenge. Okay, you get the picture. There are several more characters with their own chapters, each of them linked somehow. What is remarkable about Reiken is that despite these disparate characters and far-reaching tales, he knits together a perfect story of the connection (Donna Seaman makes the six degrees connection) between people's lives. Though each chapter begins with a new voice and a new tale, you are immediately pulled in to that person's story. I found myself wanting to race to the end to find out how he was going to pull it all together, at the same time I wanted to read slowly to relish his language, his depth of knowledge of Israeli animals and manatees and coral reefs, his glorious images (manatees resting on a sunken carousel......) and his fascinating, complex characters. Fabulous.