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by Norman Rush
ISBN 0679737111 / 9780679737117 / 0-679-73711-1
› Find signed collectible books: 'Mortals'
Surely someone has already pointed out the irony of the surname Rush for a writer who can devote a long paragraph to uneven paving tiles. Mortals--the follow-up to Norman Rush's award-winning Mating--is a complex, unhurried tour de force; the beautifully rendered story of the end of a marriage. Ray and Iris Finch are white American expatriates in Botswana. A school principal and Milton scholar, Ray is also a contract agent for the CIA. But Ray's new boss doesn't want to see the gorgeous reports into which Finch has channeled all the talent and ambition that might otherwise have gone into poetry. He is asked to submit only his notes. This is clearly a demotion, and it occurs at the same moment that Ray's adored wife begins to develop feelings for her doctor, a charismatic black American with dangerous political ideas.
Like many brilliant novels, Mortals has an Achilles heel. The book is too long by as much as 200 pages. Those pages aren't without interest, and if--like the author--you find the narrative voice of this novel compelling in itself, you will not mind the lengthy anecdotes, hair-splitting, and digressions that Rush indulges in. Other readers may do a little judicious skimming in the second half of the book and still experience the pleasures of this masterful and psychologically acute novel. --Regina Marler, Amazon.com [via]