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First Light (Contemporary American Fiction)…
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First Light (Contemporary American Fiction)

by Charles Baxter

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An interesting novel. I decided to read it based on a recommendation from someone in an online book group. They said it was remarkably well written, especially in how he developed his characters. It was pretty good in that sense, but throughout most of the book I found the characters to be less than believable.

They didn't mention the novel's central device, though, which is that it's written in reverse. It begins at the death of the main character (Hugh), and moves backwards in time, chapter by chapter, until he is a toddler at the birth of his sister (Dorsey). This is tied pretty closely with the Big Bang/Big Crunch theory of the universe (Dorsey is an astrophysicist), and in that sense it works quite well. That, actually, became the most interesting aspect of the novel for me.

As I said, the characters themselves were often not that believable. But there was something compelling about them. Their relationships were interesting at times, and it was interesting to speculate on what would "happen next"—that is, on what had happened to bring them to this point. But I have such a bad memory that I ended up forgetting details I wanted to remember, which would probably have made it a much more interesting book for me. ( )
  spoko | Nov 14, 2013 |
First Light was presented as a book showing the development of a brother/sister relationship. I was intrigued, as I have four older brothers. But the book was a disappointment, possibly because the brother was an impossibly dull used car salesman, and the sister a lofty, rather intellectual physicist, and neither of them was interesting in the least. I think that to be interested in a relationship, you have to like the people. Also, it started with today, then went backwards, pulling an event here and an event there, with no continuity, and it just didn't make any sense. Our book club decided that, if an author is going to craft a story in reverse chronology, the reader needs to be interested in the characters immediately, as they're not going to become more interesting as the book goes along.
1 vote Springerluv | Aug 26, 2009 |
I thought Feast of Love was a wonderful story whose characters stayed with me for a long time. First Light I found in a wharehouse bookstore and it's meager price tag made me jump at the chance to read more by this author. This was a different kind of story, an almost experiment where a relationship is traced backward-- right to birth. As interesting as that was, all the common conventions of novel reading were throwned out the window. the relationship that we see at the start of the novel has to be concluded to be a result of the preceding chapters. --Like I said, interesting but now quite satisfying. ( )
  novelcommentary | Dec 11, 2008 |
A revelation, deeply touching. Great writing, construction, excellent pacing and characterizations. A top shelf favorite, the first in my Charles Baxter addiction. ( )
  readaholic12 | Jan 5, 2007 |
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In a novel of extraordinary resonance and power, Charles Baxter takes us backward through the lives of Hugh and Dorsey Welch, a brother and sister born and raised in a small Michigan town. We meet them as adults - Dorsey , an eminent astrophysicist, Hugh a quiet unassuming Buick salesman in their hometown - and discover their pasts: difficult marriages, dark and destructive love affairs, moments of triumph, of disappointment, of sheer joy. As he traces their paths back to the day of Dorsey's birth, Baxter reveals the experiences that put such a distance between Hugh and Dorsey, and the ties of imperfect love that bind them together. And as Paul Auster has written, "gradually we begin to understand that Baxter is telling our own story, that this is how our own lives are formed within us." --Publisher.… (more)

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