Monday, Monday

Elizabeth Crook's new novel charts the ripples radiating out from the Whitman shootings

Far Away, From Home

Monday, Monday

by Elizabeth Crook
Sarah Crichton Books, 352 pp., $26

There are events in life that come upon us as fierce and as sharp as a fingernail breaking backward. Regardless of how we cope and move on, the nail grows back, though the flesh underneath may remain a bit scarred, imperfect. Charles Whitman's shooting rampage from the UT tower in August 1966 could be seen as such an event. Unexpected, horrifying, and impossible for those in his sights that day to counteract.

Elizabeth Crook's novel follows the lives of three such (fictional) people within an accelerated narrative that spans 40-odd years. The tale unwinds like an examination of the ripple effect. At first it may be easy to mistake Whitman's actions for the stone dropped in the water, but the stone here is literally a Stone: Jack Stone, a Vietnam vet who zigzags across the South Mall carrying the wounded to safety. The ripples that radiate from his brave impulse result in joy, death, heartbreak, love, infidelity. Some of the ripples are accidents. Some are people. As readers, we have the benefit of sitting in the sand and watching them break on the shoreline.

Four decades is a lot of "history" to cover in just 350 pages, and at times the writing takes on a summarizing quality, but Crook manages to keep her characters real and in the present throughout, not just figures in a timeline of a tragedy. In fact, this story is the antithesis to the diagram published in the pages of Time magazine shortly after the shooting. Crook forsakes the aerial view and brings your cheek right on down to the scalding pavement.


The 2014 Mayor's Book Club will kick off with Elizabeth Crook reading from Monday, Monday and a conversation between Crook and Austin Public Library Friends Foundation Executive Director Tim Staley Tuesday, May 27, 7pm, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress.

  • Far Away, From Home

    Local authors' summer lit-aways to distant places
  • Out of Peel Tree

    Laura Long's debut novel chronicles the tug-of-war between moving forward and staying the same in a small town

    Above the East China Sea

    In her most ambitious novel, Sarah Bird entwines the tales of two teenaged girls, both on Okinawa but in different eras

    Thunderstruck and Other Stories

    Elizabeth McCracken's stories examine the humanity of the mildly freakish and unspoken freakishness of daily life

    Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper

    Through research and case studies, Robert Bryce argues that human ingenuity will beat environmental collapse to the punch
READ MORE
More summer reading
Summer's Easy Readin'
Summer's Easy Readin'
Writers on their go-to books for when their gray cells need a vacay, too

Robert Faires, June 12, 2015

Nick Offerman at BookPeople
Nick Offerman at BookPeople
The actor and author of Gumption described meeting some of his personal heroes before a loving crowd

Melanie Haupt, June 12, 2015

More Arts Reviews
<i>Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s</i>
Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s
Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe's superb history revives the Eighties in all its fearful hysteria

Marc Savlov, March 11, 2016

Women of Mystery
Pleasantville
Attica Locke's stylish novel proves she knows how to craft a fiendishly intricate detective story

Molly Odintz, Feb. 26, 2016

More by Danielle White
Looking at the Big Picture
Jaws
Paramount Summer Classic Film Series goes large

May 20, 2016

Paramount Summer Classic Film Series: Beautiful Dreamers
Beautiful Dreamers
Clue, Cleo From 5 to 7, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Boogie Nights

May 15, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Summer Fun 2014, summer reading, Elizabeth Crook, Charles Whitman

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)