If you want to show someone what a great novel looks like – one that is at the intersection of great writing, great characters and a great story – then give them Late Rain. To echo a sentiment that I made last year about Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply novels like Late Rain are the reason that the novel exists as an art form.
Everyone who reads a Lynn Kostoff book this year feels like they just woke up, and after rubbing their eyes they can finally see clearly. This, right here, is the time to catch up with authors like Jim Nisbet and Lynn Kostoff.
Kostoff plumbs the depths of his characters more thoroughly than most other writers bar genre. Complex, heartfelt, multi-faceted characters that don’t fall into simple designations of good or bad or love or hate but instead breathe with a vibrancy that hurts. Every character in Late Rain is full and complete and could support fully their own narrative. It’s a quality that is shared with The Wire, that even the smallest of characters is its own universe of possibility.
When a reader comes to a conclusion about and passes judgment on a character the character stops developing at that point. The best writers find a way to postpone the readers judgment for as long as possible by muddying the waters – make it more complicated, offer differing points of view, create more facets. By uncovering these hidden depths and brushing back the layers by working multiple ideas in to the narrative we arrive at something more complex, something that demands our attention, something that is, dare I say, great. Lynn Kostoff’s fiction takes the EM Forster quote — “Incident springs out of character; and having occurred, it alters that character.” – and brings it to vibrant life.
The writing on display here is virtuosic. Kostoff takes us into the minds of a man with Alzheimer’s and another man who suffers from some sort of dissociative disorders (or autism as Jed Ayres suggests) and in the process gives us a masters class on what it means to show not tell and the inherent power when done right.
All of the characters in Late Rain represent in varying degrees explorations of the books two major themes, memory and loss, with the total synthesis of these themes taking place in Jack, the man with Alzheimer’s. There is a chapter, near the end of the book, with Jack slipping down the slope of his memory that is one of the most tragic things I have ever read. In Jack, Kostoff has created a character for the ages.
If I were to use only three words to describe Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff they would be – Tour De Force. Yes, it’s really that good. This is an amazing book and you should take this opportunity to read Late Rain and even the recently re-issued A Choice of Nightmares. Lynn Kostoff will become your new favorite author