Shadow play: a novel

Front Cover
Penguin, Feb 1, 1994 - Fiction - 399 pages
6 Reviews
Here is the novel that admirers of Charles Baxter's earlier work, the luminous novel First Light and his many award-winning stories, have been waiting for. Calling on his gift for revealing the unexpected dangers just below the surface of ordinary life, he focuses now on the Michigan town of Five Oaks and that precarious border where personal love and social responsibility intersect. At the center of Shadow Play is a Faustian contract made when Wyatt Palmer, the young assistant city manager of Five Oaks, meets up with a former classmate, Jerry Schwartzwalder, an ominous modern version of the devil. Now rich, Schwartzwalder presents a business deal too good for Wyatt to refuse: he will bring a chemical plant to the economically depressed area, but the town must look the other way if a few people are hurt in the bargain. The deal is made and the town prospers, but soon a sacrifice, personally devastating and unsuspected, is required. Wyatt, now desperate, becomes a dark force himself. In breaking free of his part of the deal, he moves toward an act of violence that brings the novel to an almost unbearable pitch. Wyatt's own narrative counterpoints the lives of the people around him. There's his wife, Susan, an expert in magic and balance; Cyril, his ne'er-do-well cousin and his shadow self; and Alyse, the business colleague whose sexual irony attracts Wyatt. His drifty mother, Jeanne, with her secret language, aids him in shedding his old self. And, most important, there is Ellen, Wyatt's aunt, who has concluded that God, everywhere present but totally indifferent, watches us through pure curiosity - and who is writing her own Bible to prove it. Shadow Play goes to the heart of the moraland spiritual contracts being made everywhere in the name of comfort and prosperity. Heedlessness is here - in the human realm, toward nature, and even toward the objects we create and discard - but so is the possibility of transcendence. At novel's end, a state of mysterious joy

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Review: Shadow Play

User Review  - Robert Wechsler - Goodreads

Another well-written novel that didn't quite make it. Part of the problem is his sensibility, which is a bit quirky for me, but this is also one of his charms. I made it through the novel, but I could ... Read full review

Review: Shadow Play

User Review  - Bookbeaver - Goodreads

Yes, this is an early Baxter novel. And yes, it's not as concrete as his later works. Maybe that's why I am so drawn to this one. The mystical/esoteric nature of it is compelling as it goes beyond ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
11
Section 2
56
Section 3
74
Copyright

25 other sections not shown

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About the author (1994)

Charles Baxter is the author of ten books, including "The Feast of Love," a finalist for the National Book Award, and "The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot," He lives in Minneapolis.

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