Posts Tagged ‘The Lost Legends of New Jersey’

A constantly changing, convoluted narrative leads the reader to unexpected delights in Frederick Reiken’s ‘Day for Night’

July 3, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 3, 2015

Frederick Reiken’s 2010 book, Day for Night, is hard to characterize. Technically, it’s a series of connected stories; however, it reads like a novel. (The indicia page indicates that three of the 10 chapters were previously published as stand-alone stories.) Each chapter is narrated by a separate character; each is connected in various ways — some of them obvious, others not so — to people or events in other chapters.

The woman at the heart of Day for Night, if such a disparate book can be said to have a heart, is Beverly, a New Jersey physician with two teenage daughters who is poised to adopt Jordan, the 13-year-old son of David, her terminally ill boyfriend. She narrates the opening chapter, in which a young Florida tour guide takes her, David and Jordan to swim with manatees. In the next section, the narrator becomes the tour guide, Tim, whose bandmate, Dee, has spent much of her life fleeing her family, a secretive and mysterious Utah clan.

Chapter 3 takes the form of the deposition of a veteran FBI agent who interviewed Tim and Dee in Salt Lake City because they were seated on an airplane flight next to Katherine, a strangely elusive fugitive suspected in a bombing, a kidnapping and other crimes going back nearly 15 years. The agent later encounters Katherine as she spirits away Dee’s brother, Dillon, a badly injured young man who appears to be a captive of his odd parents.

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Some quick notes!

April 9, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 8, 2015

My computer’s been repaired. There’s a story in that, which I’ll get to later.

Also, the next few weeks are going to be a little hectic. Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be seeing about a dozen movies at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. After that, I’ve got a roughly weeklong trip coming up. Only following that will things begin to settle back to quote-unquote normal.

I’ve fallen behind a bit on my reviewing. The other week, I finished reading Frederick Reiken’s excellent Day for Night; in February, close readers may recall, I wrote about his earlier novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey. And I’m in the middle of reading Margaret Atwood’s apocalyptic 2009 novel, The Year of the Flood. It’s well-written and compelling, but it’s also disturbing. That’s due to what happens to the book’s characters (and to its world at large) as well as to what Atwood is saying about how our species is treating planet Earth.

I’ll share my thoughts on both books at length at…well, at some point in the future. In the interim, I’m going to try to blog about most if not all of the documentaries I see at Full Frame, so brace for a bunch of film posts.

Pain and joy mingle in ‘The Lost Legends of New Jersey,’ Frederick Reiken’s excellent coming of age tale

February 5, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 5, 2015

Frederick Reiken’s wonderful 2000 novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey, is the tale of a fractured Garden State family in the early 1980s.

Teenager Anthony Rubin and his parents, Michael and Jess Rubin, are three of the book’s main characters; the fourth is Juliette Dimiglio, the young neighbor who fascinates and frightens Anthony. The novel explores the quartet’s longing, loves and losses, which are often but not always romantic.

A younger Michael ardently pursues Jess, the product of an Orthodox Jewish couple who frown upon their daughter’s rebellious ways — she becomes a high school cheerleader and marries Michael, who hails from a less-observant Jewish family.

The marriage eventually fractures because Michael is inherently unable to deal with Jess’s unhappiness, mental illness and physical and emotional distancing. The doctor launches a reckless affair with Claudia Berkowitz, a family friend. Jess tolerates the infidelity for years until she can bear it no longer; one day, she drives over to the Berkowitzes and starts throwing rocks at their house.

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