Starting Out In The Evening BOOK review [Brian Morton]

Book Reviews
Starting Out In The Evening BOOK review [Brian Morton]
Jan 31, 2000, 03:43

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING by Brian Morton; Crown Publishers, 1998

This quiet, deceptively intelligent novel takes as its focus the aging and forgotten novelist Leonard Schiller.

Heather Wolfe is a 24-year old graduate student who seeks Schiller out—she is writing her master's thesis and has taken him as her subject. Wolfe is profoundly affected by Schiller's first two novels which broadly explore themes of freedom, passion, and the choices we make or don't make in pursuit of our dreams. Wolfe encounters Schiller in the late autumn of his life, struggling to finish his latest novel. At first, he is caught up in Wolfe's enthusiasm, wondering if in fact she might liberate him from obscurity, and re-establish the interest his early work received. As their relationship grows, Morton introduces the figure of Ariel, a former dancer and Schiller's only daughter, and his late departed wife, Stella. Like her father, Ariel is a reflective type, and at 40, is struggling to come to grips with her place in life: “She was thinking that she was foolish to hope that someday, if she found the right path, she would be continuously happy. No one is that fortunate…” Through this small cast of characters, Morton examines deep themes of love, art, friendship, loneliness, and the inevitable march towards death.  At it's core, Starting Out In The Evening is about the ideal of art and creativity, and whether or not the search is enough—even if pursued on its own and in obscurity. Morton also makes effective use of the current cultural climate, often name checking musicians and artists of our time (he even takes a stab at Dissent magazine, where he is an editor). Not merely intelligent, but often profound, I look forward to Morton's next effort. 

-Wade Iverson

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