Books


NOVEMBER 22, 1963


november 22 1963.large
cover
artoff65
9782253158158-G
italcover

November 22, 1963 chronicles the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination and explores the intersection of stories and memories and how they represent and mythologize that defining moment in history.

Jackie's story is interwoven with the stories of real people intimately connected with that day: a man who shares cigarettes with Jackie outside the trauma room; a motorcycle policeman flanking the motorcade; Abe Zapruder, who caught the assassination on film; the White House servants waiting for Jackie to return; and the morticians overseeing President Kennedy’s autopsy.


Braver is a terrific writer, an observer of the most acute details; throughout the book, he traces the subtle interactions of his characters as they collide and move apart . . . It's a risky choice, but it pays off because, 45 years later, the only way to see this story afresh may be to observe it on purely human terms.

--Los Angeles Times



MR. LINCOLN'S WARS

9780061847035


Mr. Lincoln's Wars marks the emergence of a remarkably gifted writer. In this wildly inventive, highly ambitious collection, Adam Braver explores Abraham Lincoln's inner life and personal turmoils -- while also reflecting on the indelible impact Lincoln had on the nation during the last year of his presidency.

Writing with lyrical yet muscular prose, Braver brings Abraham Lincoln to life, not just as the strong and resilient president of history books, but as a griefstricken father, heartbroken over the loss of his young son. Narrated from the multiple perspectives of Abraham Lincoln and those whose lives he touched, Mr. Lincoln's Wars shows a president who is distraught over his inability to keep his country from destroying itself through civil war and a man who is fighting inner demons during a time of great crisis.

Across a rich canvas of truth and imagination, Mr. Lincoln's Wars reveals the president in his darkest hours within the White House walls. We see Lincoln as he explores the meaning of loss through a chance encounter with the father of a slain soldier. And a goodhearted young Union soldier is quickly turned into a killer in the name of President Lincoln. Finally, there is the assassination and the autopsy, as seen through the eyes of John Wilkes Booth, Mary Lincoln, the assistant surgeon general, and one of Lincoln's closest friends.

Brilliant in its depiction of the country during the waning days of the war, the book is an insightful and moving exploration of the myth of celebrity and the passions it arouses. More than anything, however, Mr. Lincoln's Wars introduces a talented new writer whose storytelling ability knows no bounds.


"Braver's dissection of Lincoln's enduring shadow is no less pungent, and, at times, brilliant and heroic. 'Mr. Lincoln's Wars' is, by turns, profane, erotic, gory, blunt and obsessed with the workings and -- in the various battlefield, hospital and assassination scenes -- the undoing of the human body."

--LA Times Book Review


 DIVINE SARAH

9780060544089


In Divine Sarah, Adam Braver, whose previous novel was described as “richly imagined” by the Washington Post Book World, renders a portrait of the great actress Sarah Bernhardt in the twilight of her career as she explores her relationship to art, also asking the question, “When does art become the artist?”


Divine Sarah explores a particular moment in the life of the great, early 20th-century actress Sarah Bernhardt. Set during a week in 1906 Los Angeles, the novel evolves around a boycott that is being waged by the League of Decency to prevent Sarah from performing there. She is forced to move her latest production from Los Angeles to the new developments of Venice Beach. And though this is only her most recent skirmish, the 61-year-old Sarah is exhausted and beginning to lose the will to fight. We glimpse Sarah's past - her brashness and self-doubt that collide while living an extravagant and controversial life. She begins to question whether it is time to quit - all the while self-medicating and trying to come to terms with her Catholic upbringing. A fictional character, the reporter who broke the story about the boycott, enters. His determination to meet the great Sarah Bernhardt - and ultimately to vindicate her - leads him to truths and untruths that both he and Sarah share.

Divine Sarah is written in rich prose and with a searing imagination. And at its center is an unforgettable character whose instinct for creating conflict is spellbinding. Adam Braver not only gives us an unforgettable Sarah Bernhardt, but he probes the depths of artistry and what happens when it begins to do battle with itself.


"Readers interested in the wars between life and art, art and commerce, inspiration and age, should be captivated by Adam Braver's novel. The fateful moment when enthusiasm (if only momentarily) deserts us is the focus of this author's concern. And, of course, that fateful moment haunts us all."

--Carolyn See, Washington Post


CROWS OVER THE WHEATFIELD

9780060782337


Driving home at dusk, Claire Andrews, an art history professor at a prestigious New England university, accidentally strikes and kills a boy who darts into the path of her car. She is immediately cleared of blame but is nonetheless left psychologically devastated. Haunted by the accident's consequences, Claire also wrestles with her study of one of Vincent van Gogh's final paintings, Crows over the Wheatfield, and its mysterious relationship to the great artist's untimely death.

Claire has been writing the definitive book on the connection between the artist's late paintings and his deteriorating mental condition before his suicide. She has uncovered evidence that the painter's death may not have been as it seems and that someone close to van Gogh may have pushed the fragile painter to take his own life. Meanwhile, Claire, too, begins to feel that she is being broken by despair. And when the boy's family files a high-profile lawsuit against Claire, even her work may not be able to pull her out of the darkness that has begun to envelop her.

On the advice of her lawyers and her husband, Richard, from whom she has recently separated but who has been caring for her, Claire sets off on a research trip to Auvers, France, where van Gogh spent his last days, determined to answer her questions about the artist and his masterpiece. While in Auvers, worrisome parallels between her life and that of the troubled painter begin to emerge, and Claire realizes that she must reconcile herself to her past in order to reunite the forces that make her whole.

Adam Braver, one of our finest young novelists, beautifully juxtaposes past and present in this remarkable story of art, tragedy, and redemption.


"I'm always happy with an epiphany and a real sense of place, both of which author Adam Braver provides in spades. Throw in science, forgery, manipulation and transition, and end it well, and the result is a very satisfactory read. There's always too much to read, tottering towers of galleys and finished books around my desk, all screaming for attention. Finishing a book is sometimes the exception; racing to the end is the reward."

--KQED, San Francisco




© Adam Braver 2012