City on Fire
by Garth Risk Hallberg
2015 / (946 pages)
read by rating 9 – / literary crime
It’s disconcerting to have decided that for historical fiction to be historical it has to be set in times prior to the author’s birth – and then find a piece of historical fiction (by this definition) set in a time when you were already an adult! Did I become historical when I wasn’t looking? Young whippersnapper! The author’s age is 36, he was born in 1979 and he pens a work of fiction taking place in New York essentially circa 1977. (I will not say how old I was then.) Oh well, as Wm Faulkner muttered (and Hallberg quotes) – “The past is not even past.” –
Anyway, Hallberg’s really long tale opens on Christmas Eve 1976 and continues into mid-1977 for the main story, but backstories go into the 1960s and prior while there are some scenes of the aftermath. The main story is not linear but it’s close.
Yes, there is a shooting in the first few chapters and its resolution (it’s a who-done-it along with a very brief section of police procedural) is woven into the rest of the main story narratives – it’s all interconnected. Still, I wouldn’t really call this a “crime” novel – possibly literary crime but the interwoven relationships of the characters, their other interests (some criminal including court battles), their backgrounds and their involvement in New York is the focus. The actual crime plot becomes secondary but there are times where that’s what really stitches the mosaic together. >>>>MORE>>>>