p. 179 “It was difficult to square the violent revolutionary her husband had become with the bookish intellectual she had met and married. But even back then, the contours of his future extremism had already been dimly visible…”
Between the simply designed paperback book cover lies a story of epic proportions. The main characters are the decades themselves: pre-revolutionary, pre-Vietnam War, pre-campus radicalism of the 1950s through the post-realism of the late 1970s. Experiencing these events is felt through a myriad of characters pulling you into their daily lives and years with a heartbreaking awareness. With each turn of the page, morality and judgment are suspended; the human condition is the antagonist.
Ottenberg’s intellectuals often refer to Russian novels, language, in addition to politics. Therefore, it is not a stretch to see this influence in her writing here. Francine Prose in her article on 19th century Russian literature states, “I could mention the depth and breadth of their range, their success at making the individual seem universal…I could applaud their ability to persuade us that there is such a thing as human nature…” Ottenberg does just this with language that is accessible, and engages the heart.
Ottenberg, Eve. Sojourn At Dusk. Austin: Plainview Press, 2012.
Prose, F. (2014, November 29). What Makes the Russian Literature of the 19th Century So Distinctive? Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://goo.gl/IhqcMC