Sunday, November 14, 2010

Northern Lights by Tim O'Brien

Northern Lights
By Tim O'Brien

I had read and enjoyed Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried in high school and decided to pick up another of his books.

I also liked this one.

There is a tiny set of main characters: two brothers (Perry and Harvey), Perry's wife and a younger lady that flirts with Paul and dates Harvey.

O'Brien uses frequently has paragraphs with a number of shorter, descriptive sentences:   
Perry took a step and stood alone. The Greyhound brakes hissed and forms moved behind the tinted windows and Perry searched for familiar movements. The door opened with another strange hiss, and the great gray cave was transfixing, dust and trembling. Perry peered into the tinted glass.
Sometimes O'Brien puts in odd juxtapositions of sentences to help establish the Perry's middle-aged confusion and dissatisfaction with his life, which was well-done.  I also thought O'Brien's exploration of the effects of Perry being the less-favored son and some of the jealousy of his brother to be well-done as well.

Not all was perfect.  I was surprised at how long of a section there was after the blizzard event.  I was also not a fan of the whole "I've got bile in my stomach" symbolism, which felt tired.  

But all in all, a nice psychology study of the characters and decent forward momentum of the plot.

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