Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Promising Debut Novel - "The Heat of the Sun" by David Rain

Puccini's opera has solidified the Madame Butterfly story in the canon of great tragic tales.  Imagine Lt. Pinkerton all grown up and a U.S. Senator and a Democratic presidential hopeful in the era of Calvin Coolidge. This is the setting of David Rain's debut novel, "In the Heat of the Sun."  The author uses the events that transpired in Nagasaki in the 19th and 20th centuries - and their "fallout" - as the launching pad for a tale that is both global and intimate in its perspective of the evils of warfare and colonialism.

The son born to Lt. Pinkerton and his Japanese geisha/wife - is named Benjamin, but known to all as "Trouble." He is raised as if he were the biological son of Senator Pinkerton and his American wife, Kate, the daughter of a powerful southern political family.  This tale of political and military intrigue, including a cameo appearance by Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, is told through the prism of the complex relationships that develop among the sons of Senator Pinkerton, American Counsel to Nagasaki Sharpless and Prince Yamadori.  The sins of the fathers dramatically befall in dire consequences to their sons.

This beautifully written tragedy weaves plot and subplots together in ways that bespeak the subtlety of a traditional Japanese painting.  Rain masterfully blends real historical events with invented back stories to weave a complex web of relationships and events.  The moral of the tale seems to be how exquisitely difficult it is to achieve peace at a global level and to find love and inner peace at a personal and inter-relational level. This novel is a very promising debut work by a writer we will hear from again.



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