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Webster Chronicle A Novel Hardcover – Oct 4 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Hen Books (Oct. 4 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399148124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399148125
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)


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First Sentence
Anniversaries are important to journalists, and so it was that on this, the fifth anniversary of his less-than-triumphant return to the town of his boyhood, Terry Mathers prepared himself for the ordeal of the night ahead by single-handedly smoking a reefer of Rastafarian proportions and heading hatless our into the night. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
In just his second novel, Daniel Akst has certainly grasped a level of cynicism that nearly overshadows a brilliant book about the loss of innocence in small-town America.
Akst's The Webster Chronicle captures a town in termoil after an allegation of spanking at a local day care evolves into a national drama with the town's newspaper editor at the center of it all.

Akst weaves the plot and characters so deftly as to marvel at his level of craftsmanship. But in the midst of a thought-provoking tale, he defaces any and all societal institutions, including a tabloid media, religion, government, the justice system and corporate America, which leaves the reader with a sour taste.
With so many integral parts to the puzzle, the message is so muddled and gets lost in a maze that eventually reaches a lousy ending in the final two pages.
While Terry Mathers, Akst's complex and pot-smoking protagonist, eventually reaches an obvious epiphany, the fate Akst's creates for him is so far from what anyone might expect, particulary his final career and relationship destinations. Mathers, like his father and his wife, end the novel with no redeeming qualities.
But that is Akst's ultimate goal and message. In a complex and inter-connected world, nothing and no one are as innocent as they appear.
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Format: Hardcover
Worst book I've read all year (this is being written in late November) and strong contender for worst book of the decade. Flat, leaden, dull prose. Cardboard characters with no depth. Silly little trivial asides. No sense whatever of plotting, timing or narrative. The author uses a true story from the pages of the Wall Street Journal as the basis for this book, but does not realize that he still has an obligation to write well and make the characters come alive -- you can't hang your words on an extoskeleton; the book has to have internal structure. The ending is farcial, and the subplot conflict between father and son is a genuine embarassment to read. Avoid at all costs. I want my money back!!
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Format: Hardcover
Daniel Akst takes his readers into the small town of Webster, where Terry Mathers and his estranged wife Abigail run the weekly newspaper, The Webster Chronicle, in a time of change. The local department store is embroiled in a takeover bid that threatens the downtown as Webster knows it (no matter that most people shop at the mall), and the Alphabet Soup preschool is so popular that they admit children on a competitive basis (even though it is used primarily for day-care and not academic enrichment.) Single parenthood is on the rise. In this environment, the stage is set for an unknowning reenactment of the Salem witch trials: a drunken, bereaved mother shouts out a single, misunderstood accusation, and the town is forever changed by hysteria.
Akst is best here when he explores Webster through the eyes of Terry Mathers, the stuttering, struggling, editor who feels that he will always be living in the shadow of his father, a well-known newscaster. Emily,the owner of the preschool who is accused of child abuse, also has a compelling perspective, but some of the others water down the central thrust of the novel. Akst, in his attempt to fully explore the issues, spreads himself too thin, sometimes glossing over areas he has carefully introduced, other times concentrating on a minor aspect. However, the quality of the writing carries this story through its weaknesses with aplomb.
Although THE WEBSTER CHRONICLE does not have the emotional energy of Akst's debut, ST. BURL'S OBITUARY, it does have the mark of a maturing novelist. Akst is a literary talent to watch.
I recommend this book for readers of literary fiction as well as for those interested in issues of small town America, false memories, child abuse, and mass hysteria.
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