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At the start of this novel made up of six interconnected stories, rebellious teen Vera, a child of Christian missionaries, falls in love with her third cousin, Joe. The pair move to New York's Greenwich Village, where they fall into a circle of like-minded anarchists including the then-unknown Dorothy Day. A later story is told from the perspective of their daughter, Louise, who is raised under the shadow of her father's imprisonment, a fate he chose over serving in World War II. Set in India, New York, Paris, and Florida between 1920 and the present, other tales are more far-flung, and discovering the connections among them is part of the book's allure. Every character here-the idealists, dreamers, and cynics alike-could be one of the "fools" of the title, as Silber makes clear in her loving but clear-eyed account of her characters' foibles. VERDICT This powerful and moving collection by a National Book Award finalist (Ideas of Heaven) recalls Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad in its novelistic cohesion of multiple sprawling tales.-Lauren Gilbert, -Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Doing good has been a hot topic in fiction (Nick Hornby's How to Be Good, 2001) and nonfiction (Steven Pink's The Better Angels of Our Natures, 2011) alike. But rarely has it been treated with such subtlety as in this collection of interrelated stories. Silber's characters include a young anarchist in 1920s Greenwich Village trying to balance her marriage vows with the temptations of free love; the spoiled son of well-to-do hoteliers who finds himself broke in Paris, needing to earn his way for the very first time; and a young woman living in 1950s New York while her husband works in Okinawa, who gratefully deposits his checks every month, despite their growing distance. In each case, Silber reveals her characters' little betrayals and shows how even small cheats can redirect the rudder of their lives and send them off to a destination they never expected. Their saving grace is their equally foolish acts of loyalty and idealism. Silber deftly handles a variety of time periods and places with enough recurring motifs the sorting of donated clothes, the inexplicable marketability of gum, the alienating power of appearance to link them all together and creates a memorable meditation on work, religion, love, and the search for personal integrity.--Weber, Lynn Copyright 2010 Booklist
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This tightly constructed collection from Silber (Ideas of Heaven) shows her talents at their finest. The stories pivot nimbly from the foibles of young anarchists in Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, in "Fools," to a spoiled young man's comeuppance in Paris in the early '60s, to a nonprofit development worker's attempt to solicit money from a potential donor in the present. In "Two Opinions," Louise, the young married daughter of the narrator from "Fools," stays in New York when her husband goes to Japan for work. Rather than despair at what becomes an extended separation, Louise creates her own happiness. Self-discovery many years too late is a recurring theme. In "Going Too Far," middle-aged Gerard doesn't realize until after 9/11 that his heart still belongs to his ex-wife, now a convert to Islam eager to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. And in "Better," Marcus, reeling from a breakup with his boyfriend, finds possibilities for picking himself back up, in a memoir written by one of the anarchists from "Fools." Though they make bad choices and exhibit a multitude of faults, Silber's characters display wonderfully lifelike vulnerability and complexity. Agent: Geri Thoma, Marson Thoma. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.