With echoes of Chappaquiddick and the career of Bill Clinton, Ethan Canin’s fictional chronicle of the end of the era of liberal politics in the US, “America, America” is an epic worthy of comparison to “All the King’s Men.” Fluid, thoughtful prose whisks the reader through the tragic story of the Meteray dynasty of upstate New York, and the man they almost made president, Senator Henry Bonwiller. It’s a sorrowful and poignant journey through politics in the early seventies, with special resonance in these days of the audacity of hope. About two decades ago, Canin exploded on the scene with his debut story collection, “Emperor of the Air,” turned out while he was in Harvard Medical School. He pursued dual careers in medicine and writing for more than a decade; writing eventually won out. Based on the accomplishment of “America, America,” he appears to have made the right choice. (Brian Hieggelke)
Ethan Canin reads from “America, America” July 17 at Book Cellar, 4736 North Lincoln, (773)293-2665, at 7pm. Free.