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A time when politicians were heroes

Novelist Ethan Canin's pitch-perfect 'America, America'recalls small-town America before Watergate.

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Is there a more gooily satisfying read for a political junky than an insider tell-all? What could be more enticing than an opportunity to read the stains on the dirty laundry like tea leaves for validation of a pet theory?

If former White House press secretary Scott McLellan’s memoir offers too much in the way of backstabbing, try Ethan Canin’s new novel America America. It’s intelligently observed, elegantly written, and no real politicians were harmed in the making of this book.
In 2006, a small-town newspaper publisher attends the state funeral of former senator and one-time presidential candidate Henry Bonwiller. Corey Sifter, however, isn’t there to cover the funeral, but to say goodbye to the lost hopes of an era.

Of course, “In towns like this, there’s always plenty to miss about the old times,” Corey says, playing down the loss. “In any case, I’m at the age when a wistful melancholy is a rather pleasant way to spend an afternoon.”

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