This one by Richard Russo didn’t quite draw me in. A graduate student teaching at a college and finding one of her students plagiarizing a paper is interwoven with her dealings with two difference professors–one a brilliant man she admires and one a has-been alcoholic–and with some personal problems thrown in for effect; a husband who doesn’t have a full time job and a son who sounds perhaps autistic (though I hesitate as this seems to be the new hot diagnosis thrown around far too much lately).
A bit of head-hopping and I wrote about that in my Creative Writing weblog, that may or may not be as well done or necessary to the story. Some confusing italicized segments that are backstory and supposedly show us how the main character got to this state of mind, though it seems that a decade later, she is more screwed up than ever. While I had no real problem with the writing style and use of language, there seemed to be a shallowness of character that didn’t get me to look deeper into the problem or care enough about it.
However, there was a particular gem that struck me:
When it was Bellamy’s turn, he’d recited "Windy Nights," a children’s poem everyone but Janet remembered. He emphasized its childish iambic downbeat by slapping the table so hard the water glasses jumped, and by the time he finished the entire group was weak with laughter "Okay, okay, okay. Now the explanation," someone insisted. "Tell us why that’s the greatest poem ever in the English language."
"Because," Bellamy said, suddenly serious, his eyes full, "when I speak those words aloud, my father is alive again." (p. 363)
And I totally missed the "Horseman" symbolic meaning of the title and its mention in the story.