May 09, 2005

BOOKS: A Changed Man, Francine Prose (2005)

Vincent Nolan, a former member of the Aryan Resistance Movement, arrives at the headquarters of human rights organization Brotherhood Watch, and says that he's had an epiphany, a conversion, and that he wants "to help you guys save guys like me from becoming guys like me."

The fallout from Vincent's conversion will be dramatic, changing not only his own life, but that of Meyer Maslow, the charming Holocaust survivor who heads Brotherhood Watch, and especially that of Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's chief fundraiser, who takes Vincent into her home as a guest.

Prose is a fine writer, and her storytelling skill kept me going despite the many implausibilities of the story. Vincent's conversion is never terribly well explained, and Meyer and Bonnie seem awfully quick to accept Vincent and his story at face value; only very briefly do they consider the possibility that VIncent's motives in infiltrating Brotherhood Watch might not be as pure as he claims. And the book dribbles to a weak conclusion that leaves far too many plot threads unresolved.

Still, A Changed Man is good enough that I might check into Prose's other work. I've heard that Blue Angel is worthwhile. Any other recommendations, anyone?

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