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Sacrifice

Todd Gitlin

2 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805060324 / ISBN 13: 9780805060324
Hardcover
From Dan Pope Books (West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Metropolitan (New York), 1999. First edition. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Hardbound. New in dust jacket. A perfect unread copy. 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # 4277

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Sacrifice

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: F....

About this title

Synopsis:

A beautiful, elegiac novel of a father, a son, and the secrets that divide generations.

In the seventy-fifth year of his life, on a sweltering August afternoon, Chester Garland, the distinguished psychiatrist, author, and campaigner for human rights, is struck by a subway train and dies. Soon after, his son Paul receives a thoroughly unexpected inheritance: three diaries written decades earlier, in the year when Garland, on a trip to France,unaccountably walked out on his family and his profession.

As cool, detached Paul, a cyberspace cartoonist, reads the diaries, he finally faces the event that has shadowed his life since childhood. He embarks, as his father had a quarter century earlier, on a pilgrimage of love and grief, of passions-religious, erotic, and intellectual-and of discovery that is as unexpected as it is moving.

With grace and precision, Gitlin takes us on a journey not just across an ocean or across decades, but into the secret depths of two men's lives, which were forever changed in the aftermath of that tumultuous decade now known as "the sixties." A memorable portrait of a father and son locked in a biblical embrace, Sacrifice builds with quiet elegance to its shocking conclusion.

Review:

You can't swing a (metaphorical) cat without hitting an issue in Todd Gitlin's second novel, Sacrifice. Feminism, human rights, adultery, and suicide are just a few of the topics touched on in this tale of tangled familial relations. The story revolves around Chester Garland, a psychiatrist whose death at the start of the novel is the catalyst for what follows. It's not clear whether he jumped or simply fell in front of the New York subway train that killed him; in the aftermath, his estranged son, Paul, receives a journal that Garland had kept--one that explains the central mystery of what had caused him to leave Paul's mother many years before and change his focus from psychiatry to human rights activism.

Once Paul begins to read the journal, the narrative shifts from his perspective to that of his father's as he details the events that changed his life. The journal begins with a trip Garland took to Europe in the 1960s, ostensibly to participate in a conference but really as an escape from both a barren marriage and a professional failure that continues to haunt him. While on a day trip to Chartres, he meets Milena, a Czechoslovakian political exile, and soon the two are involved in a passionate affair. A tragic mishap eventually divides them, but Milena's involvement in human rights rubs off and Garland returns from Europe a changed man.

Though Sacrifice has all the elements of a compelling tale, Gitlin's prose style, unfortunately, smacks more of the social scientist than the novelist, riddled as it is with sentiments such as "My superego is mine alone with its whips, its blisters and white heat. I myself am the flames of hell" or "Guilt is my bondage, my shrine, and my lollipop." Yes, the character is a psychiatrist, but all too often he speaks like a parody of one. Too bad, because underneath this turgid rendering is a good story struggling to get free. --Alix Wilber

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