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The Testing of Luther Albright: A Novel by…
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The Testing of Luther Albright: A Novel (2005)

by MacKenzie Bezos

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602301,124 (3.1)5
"Luther Albright is a devoted father and a designer of dams, a self-controlled man who believes he can engineer happiness for his family by sheltering them from his own emotions." "But when an earthquake shakes his Sacramento home, the world Luther has constructed with such care begins to tilt: his son's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre and threatening, his loving wife seems to grow distant, the house he built with his own hands shows its first signs of decay, and a dam of his design comes under investigation for structural flaws exposed by the tremors. Nightmarish connections begin to whisper at Luther from the most innocent of places as debut novelist MacKenzie Bezos tightens her net of psychological suspense around the reader with bravura skill. This is a harrowing portrait of an ordinary man who finds himself tested and strives not to be found wanting."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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I think the best way to describe this novel is as a series of tests. Stability tests are run on dams after earthquakes. Just so are parents tested as children become adolescents and young adults. Just so are couples tested as they change over time. Tremors and after shocks test the stability of relationships. In this story, Luther Albright tries to fit his emotional world into his engineer's orderly framework. Frankly, the reader's patience is tested a bit too by Luther's/the author's pedantic process. ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 5, 2014 |
A low-key but affecting portrait of a family whose admirable head has one fatal flaw. Luther Albright is a responsible man. That shows in his work as a highly respected civil engineer in Sacramento; it shows in the shipshape house he built from scratch in the Sacramento suburbs; and it shows in his love for his close-knit family. Yet his story begins: "The year I lost my wife and son . . ." Lost: the ominous, ambiguous word hangs over the seemingly inconsequential episodes to come. Summary BPL

Superior quality prose and fleshed out characters. The point of it all flew right over my head though. Luther's attention to detail, obsessively methodical routine and flat aspect--on the page anyway--had the tang of autism to me and I read the entire story in that key. As I tried to write this review, I saw that it could also be about a person too traumatized by emotion in his childhood to give it any space in his adult life; a father determined not to make the same mistakes as his own parents.

The story lags, testing the interest and patience of the reader.

6 out 10 ( )
  julie10reads | Apr 28, 2013 |
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