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The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson reviewed on Rebecca Reads

  

The Electric Affinities
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVox Books (2013)
ISBN:  9781609641481
Webpage: Click here
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (12/13)
 
Wade Stevenson's new novel, “The Electric Affinities” is a gift of a trip back to a very certain time and place in America--- the great wild conflict filled world of Nineteen-Sixty Nine New York. The opening pages set the tone and atmosphere of this work. Affluent New Yorkers, artistic and varied and often complex, seeing and being seen at a Fourth of July gathering on Sag Harbor, Long Island. The cast are wonderfully obtuse, acerbic and full of gilded bohemian flash. It instantly brings you in and lets you know the world you are about to roam through. 
 
Mr. Stevenson has a gift for character study and descriptive writing that lands the reader directly in the work presented; you truly feel you know these people and their comforts, as well as the stones pressing the heels of their lives. The settings are rendered magnificently. Perhaps it is because all of what is put down is appealing in one way or another that “The Electric Affinities” is such a pleasure; I believe though it is more the talent of the author. 
 
Things are happening below the surface. These characters are alive and feeling, no matter how jaded some of the facades they present. It is a subjective opinion, especially for a book with a number of possible lead players, but the enigma that is Maya seems the perfect orb for this story to revolve around. I admit, after reading the novel, I wanted desperately to know her, to have her in my life. If there is a better compliment for a creation in a book, I don't know it. 
 
The true accomplishment achieved by Wade Stevenson is the world created, or perhaps re-created, within the novel. You come to know Nineteen Sixties New York as if you are living it. The rarified air of the denizens invoked breathes into you. Maybe it's nostalgia for a thing never known (and what's wrong with that, after all), but I wanted to be a part of the scene Stevenson has painted. 
 
Andre and Robert and Ben and Maya and Caroline and Louise, et al, live fully here, intermingling in desire and pain, questing for the answers to eternal questions: what is our purpose; who should we be; what are we; what is worth anything. The existential dread seems real and worth examining. Souls searching, no matter their flaws, are always better companions than those settled into contented states of blind acceptance, buried despair.
 
 “The Electric Affinities” pulses with a certain kind of depth. It is not all happiness and candy. Too much is wondered and searched for that to be the case. Tragedy strikes and it is wounding, but isn't that a large part of life? 
 
Realism screams here and it is welcome. The novel is not depressing, it is too full to allow a maudlin skin to cover it. We care for these people. We have empathy towards them. For me their talents override everything. The experience of their stories is worth careful consideration. 
 
I think anyone reading the book will learn more about themselves. At the same time, they will be thoroughly captivated by the tale told. It is all I want from a novel. Since I can't actually go back in time, “Electric Affinities” served as the next best thing.       

 

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