Wednesday, March 23, 2005

50 Book Challenge #20: A Changed Man

Francine Prose probably had to be a writer with a name like that, and she's a good one. Her latest novel, A Changed Man, follows the story of a white supremacist who decides, after a Ecstacy-fueled experience at a rave, to turn his back on his past and go work for World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights organization founded by Meyer Maslow, a Holocaust survivor who doesn't get as much press attention as Elie Wiesel or sell as many books as the Dalai Lama, but whose charisma could persuade almost anyone. Vincent, the Nazi-cum-activist, crashes with Bonnie, the development director of WBW, strikes a cautious balance with her and her two sons, and scores tons of publicity for the organization. But is Vincent's conversion genuine? Will his old buddies catch up with him and put him "in the hot seat" (word is the last guy who tried to quit lost three toes)? Will Bonnie fall for the muscular Tim McVeigh-lookalike sleeping in her spare room?

In a lesser novel, these plot questions might predominate, but Prose manages to keep us guessing about what will happen next while simultaneously exploring each of these people's minds with the depth of a character study. I look forward to reading Prose's previous novel, the National Book Award nominee Blue Angel. However, I have sworn off the 50 Book Challenge until I get caught up in Fed Courts.
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