Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object"

On 1/21/11, I wrote about the wonderful author Laurie Colwin, who died too young, but not before writing several novels and short story collections. I recently picked up her novel “Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object” (Penguin, 1975), which I had read years ago but decided to re-read. This slim volume tells the story of Olly, whose husband Sam –- a charming and daring man -- has died in a boat accident. She mourns him desperately, and is both supported by and frustrated by her relatives and his. As she reflects on her marriage to Sam, she realizes that though she loved him very much, he had serious problems too. Olly, still young, gradually regains some of her zest for life, and there is actually a happy ending that the reader can see coming before Olly does. Much of the novel is about family relationships, always an interesting topic for me. It is also about young, educated, upper middle class people at a certain time period -- the early 70s -- for whom, despite all problems and tragedies, there was a sense that all would eventually work out well. This was not so much a sense of entitlement (although this played into it) as a kind of optimism and confidence they inhaled (no, not that kind of inhaling, although there is a bit of that too) from their privileged and wide-open environment. This sense gave Olly her resilience. "Shine On..." was enjoyable to read, although a little less impressive than I remembered it. Still, it is well written and has much to offer.

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