The memorable Jack Brule

March 23, 2009

In the March 2 issue of “Publisher’s Weekly,” there’s a starred preview of Ward Just’s novel to be published this July, Exiles in the Garden.  The reviewer says, “Just writes with confidence and authority as he works through larger themes of politics, history, war and historical judgment.”

I’ll be eager to read it — I’ve been waiting for another book from Just as seductive as An Unfinished Season (finalist for the 2005 Pulitzers). Put another way, Forgetfulness that followed An Unfinished Seasonwas a huge disappointment for me with its unsatisfying story about Moroccan terrorists and the death of a French woman — nothing near Unfinished Season’s moving 1950s summer story of Wils Ravan getting involved with the daughter of a famous psychiatrist named Jack Brule whose friends include Adlai Stevenson and Marlon Brando.

The aloof Jack harbors a painful and profoundly private secret from his military service during World War II, and it is this secret – one that’s even kept from his daughter – that grips Wils with insistent curiosity.

Jack says to Wils, in a much longer, stunning monologue:

“It’s a different thing entirely when you see the devil face to face, snake-eyed, malignant, merciless. He wants to erase you, destroy your soul. He’d do it in a second, without a moment’s thought or a backward glance.”

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