I first became aware of the writing of Christopher Meeks when I read his wonderful short story collection Months and Seasons. Now Meeks has come out with a stunning debut novel titled The Brightest Moon of the Century, and I have to say that I’ve gone from being an admirer of his work to a full-blown fan–bordering, perhaps, on groupie.
As with Months and Seasons, Meeks’ attention to character and setting in Brightest Moon allows him to capture the angst, uncertainty, and joy of the human condition in all stages of life in vivid detail, but his move to the realm of the novel has allowed him to explore all of these emotions in more detail and greater depth than in his earlier fictional outings. The novel follows the life of Edward Meopian from the death of his mother at an early age through the perils of young adulthood and into the uncertainty of early middle age. What motivates Edward throughout the novel is what I daresay motivates most us: a desire to find a place where we fit in, a desire to find a home in the world, a desire, in short, for love.
Edward’s quest speaks to the hyper-mutability of postmodern life; professionally, he goes from being a college student to working part time in a Los Angeles camera shop to managing a minimart in Alabama to attending film school back in California. Along the way, he falls in and out of love, faces down a hurricane, gets shot at, and watches helplessly as his car explodes in a ball of flame. That this isn’t a thriller, however, underscores Meeks’ talent as a writer: he finds adventure and excitement in the otherwise mundane details of day-to-day life and, in so doing, demonstrates that Edward’s world, like our own, has infinite potential to surprise and delight us. We just need to be open to it.
Overall, The Brightest Moon of the Century is the work of an expert storyteller. The characters come alive, the writing sparkles, and the story of Edward’s journey rings true through every twist and turn. A great and truly humane novel in the tradition of Charles Dickens and John Irving.
For a chance to win a free copy of The Brightest Moon of the Century, check out Christopher Meeks’ recent interview with BackWord Books.