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The Travelers: A Novel by Regina Porter

The Travelers: A Novel (2019)

by Regina Porter

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823229,247 (3.75)2
"American history comes to vivid, engaging life in this tale of two interconnected families (one white, one black) that spans from the 1950s to Barack Obama's first year as president. . . . The complex, beautifully drawn characters are unique and indelible."--Entertainment Weekly   "An astoundingly audacious debut."--O: The Oprah Magazine * "A gorgeous generational saga."--New York Post Meet James Samuel Vincent, an affluent Manhattan attorney who shirks his modest Irish American background but hews to his father's meandering ways. James muddles through a topsy-turvy relationship with his son, Rufus, which is further complicated when Rufus marries Claudia Christie. Claudia's mother--Agnes Miller Christie--is a beautiful African American woman who survives a chance encounter on a Georgia road that propels her into a new life in the Bronx. Soon after, her husband, Eddie Christie, is called to duty on an air craft carrier in Vietnam, where Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" becomes Eddie's life anchor, as he grapples with mounting racial tensions on the ship and counts the days until he will see Agnes again. These unforgettable characters' lives intersect with a cast of lovers and friends--the unapologetic black lesbian who finds her groove in 1970s Berlin; a moving man stranded in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during a Thanksgiving storm; two half-brothers who meet as adults in a crayon factory; and a Coney Island waitress whose Prince Charming is too good to be true. With piercing humor, exacting dialogue, and a beautiful sense of place, Regina Porter's debut is both an intimate family portrait and a sweeping exploration of what it means to be American today. Advance praise for The Travelers "In this innovative and deeply moving debut, Regina Porter has mastered the kind of alchemy found in a great painting by Poussin: her canvas is vast, her subject ambitious, yet her execution is so brilliantly devoted to particulars that it creates a miraculous intimacy. The beauty of this book lies in how Porter's characters, through resilience and community, art and creative love, cut new doors out of the corners they've been backed into by history."--Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You… (more)

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This powerful novel reminds me of Tommy Orange's There,There. In both books the author shares the different lives of numerous characters, providing in sum what life was like for a group of people -- in this case, African-Americans from the South over a period of some fifty years. When people say that you never know what burden someone else may be carrying, that thought is captured in this book. Some people have committed horrendous acts and paid for it dearly, others have been the victims of similarly terrible acts and have also paid for it dearly. As my mother would say, "Life is rough." Or as the novel concludes,
"We're here. Dig in." ( )
  PatsyMurray | Sep 1, 2019 |
Enjoying The Travelers by Regina Porter really comes down to what kind of reader you are: one who prefers a linear narrative with fully fleshed characters who fall easily and precisely into said narrative, or one who can appreciate something else. The Travelers definitely falls into the latter. Sprawling does not even begin to describe the sheer quantity of characters (as evidenced by the three pages list at the beginning of the book), time frames and locales visited. Eventually, everyone links in some way as Porter weaves a larger and larger web around the last 50 years of US history with the years highlighted at the beginning of chapters as road maps. It is impossible to summarize a book like this since it covers nearly everything a book can be about--love, race, family, class, and belonging. As a reader who very much enjoys that something else, I found The Travelers engaging and well worth the effort. ( )
2 vote Hccpsk | Aug 15, 2019 |
I was really intrigued by this novel after reading some of the reviews; however, I gave up after finding it too difficult to keep up with the numerous characters and a confusing time line. The long list of characters at the beginning should have been helpful, but even that required time spent flipping back and forth, and added to my disengagement. ( )
  pdebolt | Jul 29, 2019 |
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