Remember the slog of the 2004 presidential campaign – the long months of desperate hope that we’d send Bush back to Texas and finally turn the corner? At the same time, of course, that hope was tempered by the reality of John Kerry – his awkwardness, his lack of passion, his John Kerryness. But still, it felt great to believe, even just a little: to believe that the election was about something bigger, something more important than just changing the White House china. For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, it seemed like our generations (I hate the hair-splitting of Generation X, Generation Y, Millennials, Internet Generation, etc.) were dropped into a cultural void, searching for meaning in a century filled with greatness. Salvatore Pane’s debut novel, Last Call in the City of Bridges, is steeped in this feeling, in this desperate quest for generational identity. The book asks the same questions we’ve been asking ourselves for a decade or more: why is my generation here? What is here for us? How can we matter – and if we can’t, how can we at least get through this world alive?
The novel is bookended by the 2004 and 2008 elections. The false excitement and squashed hopes of Kerry. The thrill of watching our country leap forward, if only briefly, to elect Obama. More than any book I’ve read in years, this novel is grounded in a firm sense of its own place in history. In it, Pane writes of the importance of small events among uncertain times, of the longing for a larger myth – for something more to believe in:
November 30th, 2012 / 12:00 pm