For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There was something a little unsettling about this book - the writing was sometimes a little too lush? ornate? when sparer writing would have been more effective.
Canin has specialized in the man-from-nothing-is-good, man-from-privilege-is-amoral/bad/corrupt genre, and this is no different. Orno (or no?) comes from the midwest to Columbia Universtity, not the best of students but one who can study and apply himself. Meeting Marshall proves both his undoing and his salvation: he's introduced to New York City, taught about art, meets the Emerson family and spends time with them at Woods Hole while at the same time not paying attention to his studies, letting his grades drop, drinking and falling in love. Orno is rather passive, in fact, just going with things. Marshall, on the other hand, has an eidedic memory and mostly spends time spinning fantastic tales about his life (particularly his years in Turkey with his mother).
There's no satisfying ending here - the story just seems to peter out.