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clifhostetler

Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Afternoon - David  Elias This story is worth reading for its carefully crafted plot that brings a wide divergence of characters to a climatic simultaneous cataclysmic convergence at the end. The contrast in characters varies from the young to the old, from the attractive to the grotesquely ugly, from the worldly to the religiously conservative, from the accepting to the closed minded, from the war veteran to the pacifist, from the American ICBM missile to the rural Mennonite community, and from the sadist to a Christ figure. I suggest that the reader not worry about whether all the contrasts and coincidences contained in the story are realistic. It's better to simply enjoy the diversity of literary symbolism and contrasts. In other words, it's a fable.

The setting of the story is on the U.S.-Canadian border (North Dakota-Manitoba) during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. An American Minuteman Missile is being installed on American soil within site of a small rural Mennonite village located on the Canadian side of the line. The contrasts contained within this geographic and time setting fits well with the diversity of characters contained in the story.

Depending on the reader's world view, the end of the story is a religious experience, a new age paranormal event, or a science fiction story. We also learn at the end of the story that the events on the North Dakota-Manitoba border in 1962 saved the world from a nuclear war. It was also the birth place the the "make love not war" movement of the 60s and 70s. You have to read the book to understand how these connections are made.

A word of warning. There's a lot of discussion about sexual activities in this book. Some may argue that most people think about sex all the time so why shouldn't a novel. But I'm not sure everyone who wants to read about a rural Canadian Mennonite community will want to read about this much sex. The sex in this book isn't very sensual. But rather it's a way for the author to describe personalities and motivations. The descriptions of sex are devoid of passion and have the emotion of a clinical test observer. The author provides a lot of symbolism throughout the story and this includes sexual symbolism. For example, the author goes out of his way to drive home the symbolic comparison of the erect American Minuteman Missile and the more human type of erection.

Another item of interest about this book is that John Kennedy (in conversation with Lyndon Johnson) and Marilyn Monroe (on the day before her death) make cameo appearances in this book. That should give some people a motivation to read the book. Others may be interested to know that bits of Plautdietsch and German are scattered throughout the text.

The author must have a sense of humor. He has the American military secretly transport evidence of paranormal happenings from the North Dakota-Canadian border site to Roswell, New Mexico for further study. Roswell of flying saucer fame, what a hoot!

I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give it. Based emotional impact to me I'd give it three stars. Based on contrivance of plot I'd give it five stars. So I've compromised and have given it four stars.