|There’s a way that the 1960s feels like it belongs to the past and the 1970s belongs to the present. That’s not a clear break, as movies and novels heading even to the 1980s still feel part of the past. For example, Network feels past and so does the Lorrie Moore story “How to be the Other Woman”. Movies like Patton and The Sting feel like the past, but something like Rocky or Deer Hunter feel like the present. There’s also transitional books and movies like MASH or Desperate Characters or Dog Day Afternoon with a foot in each corner. Raymond Carver is in the present.
The book, from 1971, is from the present. There’s a presence here that feels like we’re no longer looking at how the world was and how the world will be, but squarely on knowing that we’re heading a certain direction, and what do we make of it.
Lowell is a west coaster who has moved to New York, and finds out nine years too late that his temporary job as a technical writer has become permanent. And his marriage to his college sweetheart is also permanent, and it’s not even that he really wants out, but that she might hate him and he’s not sure what to do with that. Feeling some kind of way about this life, they move to Brooklyn, encroaching upon the primarily Black residents there and don’t seem to learn a lot of life lessons. I find this novel rich and richly written. It’s not whiny and it’s not transcendent, but it captures something.