Sunday, October 22, 2006

John Jakes

I just finished reading or should I say re-reading a book titled 'Homeland" by John Jakes. John is who I want to be when I grow up. He writes the most awesome historical fiction, the only fictional parts being the characters and their lives. He packs so much real history into all of his books and the way he tells it through his fictional characters just puts the reader there, right there, you can see it. This particular book is about a young boy from Berlin who comes to America around 1891, lives with an uncle (who had immigrated years before) until the uncle sends him away. The uncle is a very successful brewer, extremely controlling and set in his ways. One of my favorite excerpts is from years later after his son and nephew are gone and he no longer has a relationship with them because of his control issues. He meets a woman while away from home fighting in the 'splendid little war' with Cuba. It goes like this:

He spoke in detail about Joe Junior, driven out; and his nephew Pauli soon after.
"In our family I established certain rules -"
"You drove your son out because he broke your rules?"
Estella, you don't understand. In business, rules are absolutely necessary."
"Your family is not a business. Life is not a business."
"Don't look at me that way. I'm a human being. I have my own beliefs -- strong ones."
"I assume the same can be said of your son. It can be said of my father. Or of any person."
"You're confusing me. My life, my whole life has been built on the principle of order. With my own hands, and that principle, I created my success. Wealth --"
"Buttressed by these rules which everyone must obey, or lose your love?"

And later on in the conversation-

"Repair the damage with your son and nephew."
"It's too late, the boys are gone."
No, as long as they are alive somewhere, you have the opportunity. Find it. Seize it, or you'll never again be a whole man, you'll keep hunting another war, another reason to leave your wife, your home, your calling, and underneath it all, your remorse."
And a quote from another page.
"Man's never lonely with a book in his pocket. Books give a man ten thousand friends. Some are smart, some are funny, some are just pleasant for passing the time, but they're all good."

1 comment:

Ren said...

Cool. I love historical fiction to find some time.:)