Sunday, April 28, 2013

A review from Hartford by way of Colorado

The Colorado Review's fall issue includes a three-page review of The Greatest Show. The writer,  Jennifer Wisner Kelly, has family history in Hartford, and she begins by telling about her grandmother's decision that July 6, 1944 was too hot a day to take her son--Jennifer's father--to the circus. This moment has become family lore, Kelly writes, known as The Near Miss. "How might everyone's lives have shifted," she writes, "if Grandma had gone to the circus?"

I'm grateful that someone with Hartford roots reviewed the book. I think it's the first time that's happened. And I'm glad that Jennifer Wisner Kelly enjoyed the read. She ends...

Downs's stories are invariably rich and mature. There is nothing rushed here. He savors his characters, descriptions, and details. He effortlessly inhabits the lives, over six decades, of Hartford's citizens--it's immigrants; its wealthy; its men, women, and children--and drills deep inside his character's thought processes, self-analyses, and epiphanies. Downs resists easy answers to complex human questions, but gives enough resolution in each story to satisfy. The Greatest Show gorgeously captures the sweep of ordinary lives made remarkable by a tragic twist of fate.

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