Martin Flavin – “Journey in the Dark”

Journey in The Dark is a strange book, especially to have won in 1943. The work just hits upon World War 2 as it is ending and takes within its epic scope pioneer aspirations, the industrial revolution, some brief work with World War 1, the sinking of the Titanic, the roaring 20s, the stock market collapse, some of the Depression of the 30s, and a brief step into the second World War. What is immediately clear about the presentation of both wars is that the second time through people felt very differently about the second conflict and the nature of its purpose is differently understood. It is odd that this book has been so long forgotten because it seems like essential reading for the ways these movements of western civilization were felt by a leader of industry. Then, there are curious points in this text that point to something interesting happening inside the text as we are uncertain at points who the narrator is. I am deeply intrigued by who the narrator is as no easy subject is easily identified. Perhaps it is Nat, Hath’ s wife who is quite distant from these events though present in the end. What is curious is if Nat is the narrator you’d think she would bury Sam Braden or at least introduce him to his grandson but the place it leaves off is an odd decision. I understand why because the final passage brings the story to its current which is half way through America’s involvement in the war, but it seems like an unusual place to stop this story. I also felt that this book took within itself to gently bury this man over many many pages that got fatiguing towards the end. It felt like this book was trying to end for 150 pages which was frustratingly sentimental at times. The little victory of the final decent night with Hath and the grandson seems to vindicate this man who for most of the novel I was not convinced I liked that much. The final conversation with Neil and Sam felt unsatisfying and unnecessarily clipped short. There were so many ways that conversation could have went that would have been so satisfying and would have represented a resolution I think this novel was looking for. Even a final meeting between Eileen and Sam that would have made the slow decline worth it. But this book continued to make strange choices through until the end. This book moved me more than i thought it would, but nothing resolved which I suppose is to be considered when it runs up to beginning and is published before end of the war, and much of American life must have been up for grabs then. If someone else should decide to read the Pulitzers or thought to read something about this timeframe or was truly interested in a deeply unrequited love story perhaps the most unrequited love story I have ever read then maybe you would like this one between Eileen and Sam which is a difficult pill to swallow and a difficult story to withstand at times. I felt for these characters deeply and was astonished at times with Flavins writing, but I also have a lot of questions about a less than perfect text.

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