Those that know me, know that few books are as important to me as The Odd Sea, and Lost Legends of New Jersey, both by Frederick Rieken. Those two books sit atop my personal Top 10 and are always talked about without ample amounts of hyperbole. To date Reiken has been hailed by the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and the Atlantic Monthly as a writer on the rise. The London Telegraph even hailed him as one of 10 literary rising stars for 2010.
So it is with baited breath and much anticipation that I read his third novel, Day For Night, this past weekend. Due out later this month, Day for Night follows Beverly Rabinowitz, a pediatrician on vacation in Florida with her boyfriend and his teenage son. When she receives a phone call that her eldest daughter has been arrested back home in New Jersey, it sets off a chain of events that follows a most unusual and thought-provoking trajectory.
Crisscrossing the globe in the most unexpected of ways, Day for Night introduces a host of colorful and disparate characters and tangles them into an intricate, inspired and mind-bending web. Layer by layer a family’s secret and complicated history is unraveled. With his trademark tenderness and resolve, Reiken allows even the most minute and extreme of characters to enter into a place of familiarity and geniality. Page by page, this far-flung and seemingly incongruous story weaves itself together in the most surprising and unconventional of ways.
In 280-plus pages, readers meet a Massachusetts veterinarian who finds love on a kibbutz in Israel, a comatose 20-year-old in a Utah hospital, a 1960s radical militant, an FBI chasing down a 20-year case, a headstrong vocalist with a sordid family history, and various other intriguing and zany characters. In the words of Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo, “Day For Night does what really good books so often do by forcing us to see the familiar world in new ways that reveal its wonder. It’s a nifty trick that not every writer can pull off. Frederick Reiken can and does.”
If you can’t trust a Pulitzer Prize winner, who can you trust?
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