Due to the sampling structure of “Perfect Agreement”, the reader remains in the strange position of choosing one part of the novel over another. Comedy is fun, but it doesn`t last long. Spelling rules are useful, but this is, after all, a novel, not a textbook. . But the shaker material is top notch. And the title is perfect. The book speaks of perfect chords – or at least desire for them – in grammar, in domestic life, in work, in education, and in utopian theology (which may not be very different from everyday theology). “Wonderful! The downing vision of science is so witty and full of such discouraging precision that it might be easy at first to confuse his novel with high-end campus satire. but Perfect Agreement is much, much more. This may be the first novel in which the love story is counterbalanced by a discussion of sentence mechanics, but that doesn`t make it any less moving. Downing has filled his book with so much intelligence and beauty that it can change your life like a loved one. And in the field of art, there is no more perfect than that. The great subplot of the test balloon – and by far the most successful – is a long historical flashback intertwined with contemporary events.
Here we are taken to a shaker colony in Kentucky and a young girl who sees a dark-skinned man the church wants to believe is a mystical vision of a black Jesus. Downing is better at writing about Shaker than Hawthorne or Melville, which they had for the neighbors. (Maybe that`s why.) The setting is perfect. The feeling for the community and its members seems true, especially in the small details like sweeping away a walk that a stranger sees as a chore and the shaker sweeper as an act of worship. . Perfect Agreement is such a well-written book and so full of insight, gentleness and an unwavering search for the truth that you will appreciate it more every time you pick it up. Mark Sternum will become an intelligent friend whose company you will enjoy throughout the book. I go back not only to read the story, but also to appreciate the humorously chosen examples that explain the pitfalls that await those of us who write English. This book is not so much about agitators, but about finding your way and appreciating, but not judging, our friends and loved ones who go through life with us.
“Mark Sternum is an endangered breed: the grammarian. His love of order extends into his meticulously constructed life, but love and family, he learns, cannot unite as easily as the subject and the verb. One summer, he suddenly finds himself as a not-quite-involuntary pariah of the impossible world of academic political correctness, and his attention turns to the lost world of agitators. Filled with satirical interpretations of modern mores, masterful evocations of the Shaker line, and the beauty of their core belief that work is a gift, Perfect Agreement is far from just a gift. This is where Downing`s genius in weaving the scripts becomes evident as he gracefully integrates Mark`s story with the sometimes heartbreaking story of the Celia shaker. exquisite. –Newsday “As cleverly and solidly constructed as a shaker table.. Exquisite. – Newsday “Cleverly built and very attractive. San Francisco Chronicle “Surely no one but Downing has ever thought of including advice on spelling, diction, and grammar in a novel. They are presented with a joke that suggests that the novelist Downing does not take them as seriously as his teacher Sternum. – Boston Globe “Downing is better at writing about shakers than Hawthorne or Melville…. The feeling for the community and its members seems true. When we first meet Mark Sternum, he reminds us of all the young academics we`ve met at every college we`ve attended. Sir. Downing brings us back to campus, its faculty policies, the noble poverty of those still looking for work, and the strange actions of administrators who are put in the impossible role of building a bridge between academics and the outside world.
As we get to know Mark Sternum better, we are drawn to how he tries to balance his need for structure and the peace of mind that comes with the reality of his own dysfunctional family. Mark Sternum has the daunting task of sorting out his feelings about why his own father left the family and moved to the Shaker community. His fascination with the structure of shakers` lives matches his joy in the structure of the English language. “A novel of compassion and spirit. In this generous and imaginative novel, Michael Downing impeccably interweaves Mark Sternum`s efforts in academia with a shaker mystery, a mystery that helps Mark realize what is missing in his own life – and surprises him with unexpected answers. This week, Rebecca Dinerstein writes about Michael Downing`s “Still in Love,” the late sequel to the novel “Perfect Agreement,” which David Willis McCullough reviewed for the Book Review in 1997. Enter your mobile phone number or email address below and we`ll send you a link to download the free Kindle app. Then you can read Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet or computer – no Kindle device required. Downing, director of writing and assistant professor of humanities at Wheelock College in Boston, is also a playwright at the Open City/Theater for the Future in Boston.
“A funny, moving and intelligent meditation on the themes of community and justice. Like Toni Morrison, Downing looks to the past, gives voice to untold stories, and eloquently advocates for compassion and patience. Michael Downing`s Lexington Herald-Ledger Perfect Agreement is a novel built in a unique form. Michael Downing tells the story of a young rhetoric teacher who caused a lot of trouble for his college by firmly adhering to the standards set by his institution. This action led to an outcry that his college largely fired him because the student he failed is a young black woman who can`t spell the English language well enough to take a standardized test. As we delve into the confused and frustrated thoughts of the young man, who was obviously not even tempted to be politically correct, we are trapped in his fear as he tries to settle the political realities, emotional truth, and so-called intellectual freedom of academic life. .