Holt, Jun 2009, $25.00
Playwright and actor Joe Ascher believes he is the greatest artist of all time and expects his family to adulate him. His wife Laura suffers in silence his egomania accentuated by his womanizing. His daughter Emily has always tried to be daddy’s little girl, but he only has time for himself. The only member of the family who lives harmoniously is Emily and Joe’s son Thomas who was never concerned with what his father thought of him, but now he is dying from lymphoma.
Now an attorney Emily is getting married to half Korean Clay. Their wedding is to be held in Berkshires at family vacation home where she and Tom spent their summers. The ceremony is on a hill where Tom’s ashes were scattered as Emily needs her late brother at the wedding. Her parents are divorced; while Laura remarried, still womanizing Joe is a has been who hopes for one last glory hit like a former punch-drunk boxing champion going in for one more title fight long past his prime. His estranged daughter wants him to give her away, which may be his last chance to perform as a father.
Rotating between the past and present, Hyatt Bass provides a fascinating tale that has few events, but differing perspectives as to what occurred. The story line is character driven by the Ascher family who are all fully developed protagonists seeing incidents totally different. Fans will enjoy the Butterfly Effect on a family as minor occurrences lead to major confrontations years afterward; thus the Aschers are victims of self induced inertia and chaos. EMBERS is a wonderful introspective novel though there is for practical purposes no action.