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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

In Zanesville: A Novel

In Zanesville - Jo Ann Beard My first run in with Jo Ann Beard was enjoyable. It was like taking a cruise down the old streets and reminiscing a summer of my life. In Zanesville is set in a place I've never been, during a time before I was even born, but Beard's ability to get in the mind of these fourteen year olds was so familiar. With an uncanny ability to recall those years most of us have pushed from our memory, Beard nails not only the actions, but the irrational thoughts of these young teenagers. Beard successfully uses the language and imagery that would come to the mind of a 14 year old during the 70s. The dialogue is fun and excellently crafted.While some harder issues are addressed--alcoholism and death, primarily--In Zanesville is an tale of nostalgia throughout. Even for those who didn't live through the period, there is a familiarity which should resonate with nearly any person born in the US since the 1950s, and likely others, as well.As a side note, I found it interesting how often this book mentioned Shakepeare's The Tempest. The second book in a row I've read which drew considerable influence to Shakepeare's final play. I didn't realize this when I picked it up, but I considered it some sort of divine intervention. Perhaps I will find a copy of The Tempest soon.