The Brightest Moon of the Century by Christopher Meeks
Synopsis (from back cover): Edward needs a place in the universe, but he wants an understanding of women. He stumbles into romance in high school, careens through dorm life in college, whirls into a tornado of love problems as a mini-mart owner in a trailer park in Alabama, and aims for a film career in Los Angeles. Will his love for a Latina prove to be the one?
First Line: Near mid-century when Edward was born, the full moon was years from being the brightest.
Review: This novel was such a gift at the end of a long week… Last year I read and reviewed a short story collection by Meeks which I enjoyed but was left wanting more. I loved his character development and was disappointed that I was only allowed a short, finite relationship with each character. Happily, Meeks was just about to publish his first novel and generously sent me a copy.
I was pretty sure I would enjoy it, based on my impressions of Months and Seasons, and saved it as a reward for when I was fully caught up from my trip to Ethiopia last January. Well, this past week I finally read The Brightest Moon of the Century and found a new friend in Edward.
The narrative begins in 1968, with a 13 year old Edward, and ends in 1999 (with the brightest moon of the century looming). The journey of how Edward goes from a young Minnesotan, grieving his mother and yearning to connect to his father, into a successful movie producer living in Los Angeles is interesting, poignant, and significant.
Unlike the loss I felt at the end of each of Meeks’ short stories, Edward still exists even after the end of the novel. Instead of only focusing on one defining issue (“Relationship with Father” or “Search for Love”), Moon transcends the albeit important and defining moments of one life and somehow encompasses a more universal search for meaning that we all struggle with — or embrace — depending on the individual.
But beyond the substance of the narrative and likeable nature of Edward, Moon is also simply a great read. I budgeted 2 hours a day, for three days, to read this novel and found myself looking forward to that part of my day — and even thinking about Edward at other parts of the day.
Here’s an excerpt from the very end:
“And although he couldn’t see it, Edward felt the shining light of the full bright moon, somewhere there behind the receding clouds. It was the brightest moon of the century.”
The last few lines of the novel not only give meaning to the title, but exemplify how Edward moves through his life — even when faced with tragedy or the unknown, his subtle optimism and unerring moral compass, not to mention his dogged work ethic, define his identity and color his narrative with hope.
So, in case I have been too obtuse, I thoroughly recommend The Brightest Moon of the Century, and look forward to sharing it with one of my readers soon. If you’re interested, simply leave me a comment and I’ll choose a winner soon!