Sunday, July 08, 2012

Book review: Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch

Elvis Presley once said, “Truth is the like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away.” Elvis repeats the line when he visits the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair in Jim Lynch’s third novel, Truth Like the Sun.

The story focuses on golden boy and “father of the fair” Roger Morgan and features many cameos from the real celebrities of the time. The story opens as the fair opens, with Morgan showing off the Space Needle—which in this fictional telling was his idea—and moves back and forth in time to 40 years later when Morgan, now in his 70s, has finally decided to run for mayor. He shares this part of the narrative with Helen Gulanos, a journalist and single mother new to Seattle looking to catch a big story.

Catch one she does during the run up to the election. Helen works for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (often called The P-I), one of the city’s two daily newspapers at a time when newspaper sales have dropped, adding pressure to beat rival The Seattle Times to the story. (The P-I became the online-only, with a drastically reduced staff, in 2009.) Helen happens to be on hand when Roger announces his candidacy and then races to find the truth behind his history.

Truth Like the Sun is a rich and engaging tale, with complex characters and a plot seamlessly interwoven with the history of Seattle. Lynch takes on not only the city’s boom-and-bust history but also the topics of ambition, corruption, the Cold War, and big-time newspaper journalism on the wane. The protagonists are a flawed and likeable pair that grudgingly admire each other, and the truth turns out to be elusive, often obscured by the clouds of memory and the need to sell newspapers. Anyone interested in the city of Seattle, political intrigue stories, or just plain good writing should enjoy this book.

Article first published as Book review: Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch on Blogcritics.

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