“The narrator of Abe Aamidor’s new novel Letting Go, Dwight Bogdanovic, is deeply nostalgic in his recollections of the ’50s. But he is smart enough to know that being romantic about the past will just lead him in circles. At points in the novel, you wonder if Dwight will have the sense to move on with his life or else just get swallowed in the eddies of his past.
And this narrative tension, in part, is why the novel is so engaging. Letting Go is also a quick read because of the author’s keen observational skills, which he brings to bear–with both affection and dry humor–on the city of Indianapolis, which might be unfamiliar literary territory for most.
But this meditation on fathers and sons, on loss, and on the passage of time, should feel familiar to its readers because Dwight Bogdanovic is an authentic literary creation who reflects the struggles that we all have at some point in our lives.”
-Dan Grossman, Arts Editor, NUVO Newsweekly (Indianapolis)
How do you measure a life? Is it simply the sum of events, relationships, decisions? Will it finish too late or too soon, like a book badly written? And who will value the life? In the first chapter of Abe Aamidor’s Letting Go, a bereaved father quotes a friend of Bertrand Russell saying, “Your life matters because you did live it.” But his son Bertrand has died in Afghanistan. Will the father’s life still matter? Reading like a gorgeously written memoir, Letting Go retells the son’s life together with father’s and grandfather’s, through snapshots of people from different worlds, drawn together in America’s melting pot, sent to fight for great causes, and coming home again. Except the father sold encyclopedias and the son didn’t come home. Convincing first-person narration brings to life, and vividly contrasts, teenage days of cycling and the present-day voice of an old man viewing his “fitness goal.” The “black blooming smell of soil after heavy rain,” is contrasted with city streets where “buildings have… personalities,” the regrets of the past with a desire to matter in the present, and the certainties of official voices with the nuanced nature of relationships. Birds are evicted from their trees, tribes from their land, and a man from the life he thought he’d built for himself. Small actions have large consequences, in life and in this novel, like concrete filling the space between wooden blocks to keep an old building standing, or memories tucked in the cracks of a sacred wall. Meanwhile a man, not yet so old, seeks a way forward that’s not so tied after all to the past. Only then can he truly look back and value those memories for what they are, proof that “life is for the living.”
-Sheila Deeth, popular book reviewer and blogger