What Has Shaped My Thinking on the Middle East
William Trevor

Four Freedoms: A Novel

Four Freedoms: A NovelFour Freedoms: A Novel by John Crowley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I met John Crowley in June while attending the Yale Writers' Conference and enjoyed my almost daily conversations with him over breakfast.

This novel is set during the Second World War primarily in Ponca City, Oklahoma at an imagined bomber plant. I knew the novel would be authentic when on the first page John pointed out that for the local Bois D'Arc Creek is pronounced (Bodark). When I told him that he said it was one of the last details to be added to the book, because he didn't travel to Ponca City until he was almost done with the novel.

The novel is about the workers in the plant and their stories, primarily Prosper's. Prosper was crippled in childhood when a surgery was botched, but is the type of person who thrived during the war being able to find employment and socialization that didn't last once the country demobilized. Similarly women, and there are many female characters in this novel, had a new found freedom during the war, which largely ended after. Also we see some other groups who gained employment such as little people and older folks. The bomber plant and its community resonate with the socialist vision of one of the older guys.

Another theme is how the war drive is connected with the sex drive. All of these currently unattached people (some of the husbands are overseas serving of course) are thrown together during exciting and troubling times, so sex would surely be a part of it.

The book primarily focuses on two of the four freedoms--from want and from fear. In doing so, it makes us wonder why we don't talk about FDR's Four Freedoms anymore, why those don't remain articulated national goals.

And by giving a picture of the Home Front, the book reminded me what was possible for us to accomplish when we do put our minds to it. Sadly, we have not mustered the common effort to deal with the great issues of our time.

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