Picks and Pans Review: Carry Me Across the Water
Ethan Canin made his mark with tales of tortured souls trying to make sense of their lives. His latest novel is another beautifully crafted, melancholy page-turner. But it's also uneven, with a minimalist plot that sometimes clunks along.
Canin's hero, Pittsburgh millionaire August Kleinman, lives by the piece of wisdom his mom gave him when he was a boy, just before mother and son abandoned his dad and fled Nazi Germany: "Take the advice of no one." Having heeded those words, Kleinman nears the end of his life sad and alone. His wife, Ginger, is dead; his children are scattered around the country. And the riches he furiously pursued as a beer manufacturer sit in the bank collecting interest and dust. Kleinman is also consumed by memories of an encounter with a Japanese soldier in a cave during World War II.
In trying to conclude on a suspenseful note, the plot fizzles. Canin loyalists, though, won't mind, since the path his characters travel is what matters. Even for nonfans, Klein-man's journey of self-discovery is so well-written that it's a trip worth taking. (Random House, $23.95)
Bottom Line: Touching, woeful weeper