With The Brightest Moon of the Century, Christopher Meeks demonstrates a smooth transition from a short fiction writer (I reviewed his collection Months and Seasons) to a writer of novels. Not every writer can pull this off, but Meeks has the talent to carry his quirky characters and their “find the extraordinary in the everyday” plots into a full-length novel. Each of the nine chapters is so thoroughly flushed with details that it could stand alone as a lengthy story, but that would leave the reader wanting MORE, which Meeks provides by giving the stories the respect they deserve and packaging them as a novel.
As we saw in his short stories, Meeks has an discerning eye for pulling nuggets of brilliance out of day-to-day life. Thus, Edward’s difficulty knotting a tie becomes a window into the observations of a 14-year-old thrust into situations beyond his control, both large (the death of his mother) and relatively small (preparation for his first day at a private school, to which he is transferring, at his father’s insistence). The knot is, perhaps, a metaphor for the emotions he is battling:
Tie tying, Edward had observed, started with the tie around the neck, so that the thin part and the fat part stood side-by-side on one’s chest like Olive Oyl and Bluto. The fat part was supposed to hang down farther than the thin part. Then in a flurry of crossing and flipping, a knot was made. This was done always so fast, Edward couldn’t follow what happened, so now, in front of the mirror, he experimented. He came up with knots, but only things that Boy Scouts might be proud of. None of them would slip to allow him to move the knot toward his neck.
The nine chapters are arranged chronologically and given not only a title, but also a subtitled date, which immediately allows the reader to place Edward’s age and stage of life. The beginning of each chapter is enhanced with a vintage black and white photo taken by the author himself....
Edward is endearingly real, and readers will be rooting for him in every situation. The Brightest Moon of the Century will appeal to readers across genders and generations.
Causes Christopher Meeks Supports
Associated Writing Programs