Year Of Lesser Paperback – Aug 24 2010
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Lesser is the name of a fictional small town just outside of Winnepeg, and Johnny Fehr is the name of David Bergen's protagonist in his accomplished first novel, A Year of Lesser. Johnny is a drinker, a doper, a womanizer in a place small enough for everyone to know all about his sins. At the beginning of the novel, Johnny's father commits suicide; by the end, he has lost everything that ever mattered to him: wife, lover, and friends. But Bergen's novel is not really about the changes in Johnny's fortunes, but rather, the changes in his soul. Johnny, raised in the rigid strictures of the Mennonite faith, may be a sinner, but he's a sinner with a powerful yearning for grace.
How Johnny Fehr stumbles his way toward that state of grace despite the town's malice and his own weakness is at the heart of A Year of Lesser. In Johnny Fehr, David Bergen has created a flawed yet deeply human character, one of whom readers will acknowledge "there, but for the grace of God, go I." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
First-timer Bergen offers a strong, evocative, but ultimately rather unmoving representation of a small prairie town in Canada and of the dramas that it contains. Even if Lesser, Manitoba, were in New England, few would think of Norman Rockwell after a few days with the natives. Peyton Place would be more apt, given that sex and religion seem to be the prevailing obsessions that entangle nearly everyone. As one of the locals remarks, `` `It's a curious place, Lesser. There's this above-the-surface cordiality and kindness, like life is fine and good and clean, and evil is something others suffer from.' '' But no one is really fooled. Johnny Fehr, the town's feed-and-grain man, starts the ball rolling when he repents and converts on page one. Johnny was a wild man in his day, a drinker and a brawler and a pothead, and now that he's been born again he decides to open a community center for young people who might end up with the same hard problems that drove him to the waters of baptism. Johnny's drunken wife Charlene is intrigued by his about-face and is almost sympathetic--until it becomes clear that religion can't keep Johnny from carrying on with his old flame, Loraine. When Loraine becomes pregnant with Johnny's child, it takes very little time for word to get out, and the disaster that ensues drives Johnny deeper both into Jesus and into his relationship with Loraine--to the scandal and delight of every bystander. Although far from comic, most of the situations here contain a deep irony, an irony that Bergen puts to skillful use in drawing the jagged outline of a place at once recognizable and deeply unfamiliar. Moving, credible, and subtle, but long and shapeless overall. There's enough sensitivity and restraint in the narration to keep the proceedings from turning into soap opera, but at times it's a close call. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I will continue to read other works by David Bergen because I still feel that he is a very good writer. I never let one book that I don't like colour my opinion of an author's entire body of works. I also want to say that although my review is a bit harsh, everyone is going to take away something different from a story and people need to make up their own minds about whether or not they like something. A review is just one person's humble opinion.