This is the first novel by short story writer Christopher Meeks, author of the acclaimed collections The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons. The protagonist of the novel, Edward Meopian, actually appears in one of Months' short stories.
The Brightest Moon of the Century spans a few decades, from the time Edward is a young teen to the time he's in his mid forties.
In the beginning of the story, we see Edward as a rather confused young man who has lost his beloved mother and who lives with a father who doesn't really understand him. The love is there, yet they have enormous trouble communicating it. Then Edward's life changes drastically when he's sent to a boarding school for rich boys. Here he learns a few things about himself and especially about girls. From there, he goes to college, where his education and development as a man and an individual continue. He discovers that he doesn't want to study science but film instead, and dreams of making it big in Hollywood one day. But obstacles get in the way and after college he ends up owning a trailer park for a while, then working as a teacher in art school. Through all this time, he becomes involved in various complicated relationships, and people from the past appear once again into his life. The novel ends with 'the brighest moon of the century' and with a tattered and experienced 45-year old Edward.
Each chapter shows a new stage in Edward's life and from these chapters we can sense the author's background as a short story writer: each chapter conveys the feeling of a stand-alone story.
Meek's novel is a slow, interesting read. At its core, it's a coming-of-age story, and here's where the author's skill at portraying ordinary characters pays off: not soon after starting the novel, we have a clear, in-depth picture of Edward that grows deeper and more enlightening as we continue reading the book. Meek's greatest skill is the way he can take ordinary, boring characters and turn them into something weirdly fascinating. He accomplishes this by paying great attention to the characters' inner thoughts, feelings and reactions. The prose is witty and even hilarious at times, but it always keeps that sensitivity and power of observation that has made this author's works distinctive. If you like literary novels that are deep in characterization, you'll enjoy this one.