Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Joanna Scutts has written a review on a Justin Go’s new book entitled, The Steady Running of The Hour. Provided below is an introduction to the review:
There is a moment late in Justin Go’s first novel in which the protagonist, reading from a book called “The Icelandic Sagas” learns that in these ancient stories, “personalities are shown through action, seldom through analysis.”
The same technique guides Go’s fiction, but it has its shortcomings for a literary novel — even one structured explicitly as a quest, complete with chapter titles like “The Bloodline” and “The Reckoning,” and a young hero fortuitously named Tristan.
Beyond his name, nothing much identifies Tristan as heroic in “The Steady Running of the Hour”: He’s a young college graduate from San Francisco with an interest in European history. Secretive London solicitors have told him that he has seven weeks to prove his biological connection to the original beneficiary of an outlandish fortune, and with barely a backward glance, he hoists his backpack to chase his grail through Europe.
Although Tristan’s story is written in the first person and the present tense, it conveys almost nothing about how he feels upon learning that he could inherit a fortune worthy of a Bond villain. His internal monologue is both bland and awkward and often betrays the author’s impatience to just get on with the action, already. When a young woman in a bar challenges Tristan to explain his attitude toward this life-changing wealth, the best he can muster is “It just makes me feel weird. . . . It’s just money. There are better things to care about.” Instead of making Tristan seem morally deep, this refusal to reflect on what the money could mean comes off as merely dense.
For the rest of the favorable review, see Joanna Scutts, In Justin Go’s ‘The Steady Running of the Hour,’ A Young Man Races to Find His Fortune, The Washington Post, May 12, 2014.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.