Now is the Hour is the tough, heartfelt prayer of Rigby John Klusener, iconic American teenager. He’s by turns scared and rebellious, crammed with feelings, angry and apathetic and hopeful and earnest. Knowing there’s something bigger out there. Wanting and fearing the world at once.
Set in the sixties in rural Idaho, this coming-of-age novel takes time to get into. It’s a rhythmic readjustment, slowing down the pace of life and speeding up the heart. But after a few chapters, I was riveted. Rigby John’s a Catholic budding queer, with a racist, taciturn dad and seemingly-bipolar mom. His story is all stolen cigarettes and masturbation in lonely beautiful ugly places. Itchy hay dust and skinny-dipping and greasy makeup on faces. It’s cracked and beautiful.
There’s some Magical Negro here – three non-white characters who exist primarily to be exotic and facilitate Rigby John’s self-realizations. Though some might mind it, I didn’t, simply because the whole novel is about Rigby John seeing things as exotic and having self-realizations. That’s what teenagers do.
Spanbauer uses repetitive phrasing to great effect. He layers up certain phrases’ significance like musical motifs. They reverberate throughout the narrative, heightening its litanic quality. I’m not sure it would be a good re-read, but as a one-time sensory experience, it was luminous.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2014.
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