A Window Across the River

A Window Across the River

Book - 2003
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Isaac and Nora haven't seen each other in five years, yet when Nora phones Isaac late one night, he knows who it is before she's spoken a word. Isaac, a photographer, is relinquishing his artistic career, while Nora, a writer, is seeking to rededicate herself to hers.
Fueled by their rediscovered love, Nora is soon on fire with the best work she's ever done, until she realizes that the story she's writing has turned into a fictionalized portrait of Isaac, exposing his frailties and compromises and sure to be viewed by him as a betrayal. How do we remain faithful to our calling if it estranges us from the people we love? How do we remain in love after we have seen the very worst of our loved ones? Brian Morton explores these issues with the same "astonishingly
sensitive appreciation for his characters" (Library Journal) that marks his previous work.
Publisher: Orlando : Harcourt, c2003
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780151007578
Branch Call Number: F Morton
Characteristics: 289 pages ;,22 cm

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manoush Dec 01, 2014

A highly readable, thoughtful novel that works because it's intensely focused on just two characters: Nora and Isaac. There are several peripheral yet well-drawn characters, but the bulk of Morton's careful attention is on the multidimensionality and complexity of his two main protagonists. Nora is a blocked writer who's attempting to regain her creative drive, mostly by negotiating how much she can take care of others in her life at the expense of her art. And Isaac is also an artist of a sort, a photographer who works as a deputy photo editor in a local paper and worries constantly that he may have lost his early creative drive. These two compelling New Yorkers are former lovers and re-connect, making for an absorbing dual character study on the perennial conflict between loyalty to one's art and loyalty to one's loved ones. The conflict is especially acute for Nora, whose creativity comes from scavenging relatives' and friends' personal lives for her short stories. Because his scope is so limited, Morton is able to really get into his characters' heads, revealing their noble strengths and damning failings. There are no neat resolutions or dramatic revelations here; in fact, nothing much 'happens.' Like life, the novel begins and ends smack in the middle of these two people going about their lives. The novel shines when it gets into Nora and Isaac's heads, showing the endless ambivalence, fears, and hopes that make up their interior lives (and the inner lives of all sentient beings, really). Readers of Morton's other novels will easily see connections to his characters and themes there, but I think that it's actually this less well-known work that's Morton's best. "A Window Across the River" shows how satisfying and absorbing it can be to craft a novel about two outwardly unremarkable middle-aged people with deep inner lives.


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