In What Remains Delbanco is concerned with how fragments of memory rise up and color the present. He cares deeply about the characters he is writing about, and the death of Julia, many years after the family arrives in this country, is as moving a piece of writing as this author has done in his twenty-some books. Delbanco has long been respected as a stylist, and I think this beautiful book of fragmented memory may contain his best marriage of style with content. It is impossible to imagine this story told any other way.
On Thursday, December 4, at the U-M, Delbanco will give his first local reading from his next novel, The Vagabonds, due out next fall. It is built around the camping trips Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Henry Firestone used to take with John Burroughs, one of the fathers of the environmental movement. It is typical of Delbanco's imagination that he should stumble across such odd pairings and recognize the story that could be made from them.
[Originally published in December, 2003.]