Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Lewis’
“My Process is Usually One of Necessity and Escaping Disaster” — Jeffrey Lewis On His Haunting New Novel
In Jeffrey Lewis’ emotionally resonant Land of Cockaigne, an older couple find themselves unexpectedly battling their community when an outreach program based on their late son’s dream sparks an unexpected controversy in their small town. Walter and Charley Rath have taken their windfall from savvy financial investments to support a life in Sneeds Harbor, an idyllic community in coastal Maine. There they buy not only a beautiful home, but also a neglected 220-acre camp that Charley uses as studio space. Although outsiders, they have spent over two decades there, raising their son Stephen and forging deep connections with their neighbors. As they head towards late middle age, their lives are upended when Stephen dies in a random act of violence. Struggling to carve meaning out of his death, they decide to put in motion one of his last goals, to create a program where teenagers from the Bronx would be able to spend two weeks in Maine. Walter and Charley’s opening up their home, and thus Sneeds Harbor, to young people predictably provokes huge reactions from their fellow community members, resulting in a shocking act the last night of the young men’s visit. Lewis plunges the reader into the rich interior lives of his characters, including not only Walter and Charley but also Stephen’s grieving girlfriend Sharon, various townspeople who oppose their action, and the visiting young men themselves. The result is an extraordinarily compassionate look at race, class, and community.