#37- My Cold War by Tom Piazza

I’ve previously reviewed Piazza’s novel “City of Refuge” within the 50 new books for 2009. My wife and I heard him read from that book in Oxford, Mississippi last year, and were struck by the power of his story. “My Cold War” was his first novel and I picked up a remaindered copy from Barnes & Noble for a few bucks.

Piazza’s novel contemplates a middle aged history professor, who is failing in his efforts to work up a new book on America’s cold war heritage, and is failing in his marriage and his efforts to connect with his own painful history of his own family. I do give him mega props on one specific chapter in the book which is about Dylan plugging in at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. By far and away, this was my favorite part of the book, and makes me think that Piazza might be the one who should write the Cold War book.

Our hero eventually goes to Iowa to try to reconnect with his estranged brother, who ends up having befriended some lovely neo-Nazi style racists (sarcasm on the “lovely”, of course). This is where the book gets convoluted. I couldn’t help but feel like Piazza put his hero in a boat, rowed him out into the middle of lake and stopped the book right there.

I can’t recommend this one like I did “City of Refuge”. It’s certainly not a waste of time, as Piazza is an intense and skilled writer, but he’s improved with age. If he continues, the next one should be one for the ages.

Joe

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