The Eastern Shore PDF/EPUB ☆ The Eastern eBook

Ned Ayres the son of a judge in an Indiana town in midcentury America has never wanted anything but a newspaper career—in his father’s appalled view a “junk business” a way of avoiding responsibility The defining moment comes early when Ned is city editor of his hometown paper One of his beat reporters fields a tip William Grant the town haberdasher married to the bank president’s daughter and father of two children once served six years in Joliet The story runs—Ned offers no resistance to his publisher's argument that the public has a right to know The consequences swift and shocking haunt him throughout a long career as he moves first to Chicago where he engages in a spirited love affair that cannot in the end compete with the pull of the newsroom—“never lonely especially when it was empty”—and the “subtle beauty” of the front page Finally as the editor of a major newspaper in post Kennedy era Washington DC Ned has reason to return to the question of privacy and its many violations—the gorgeously limned themes running through Ward Just’s elegiac and masterly new novel


10 thoughts on “The Eastern Shore

  1. says:

    35 stars rounded upYou can see this place called Herman Indiana almost feel as if you are there in this town that seems to be dying people leaving businesses closing not much happening at all There's not an extra word here The writing is concise describing the place and following Ned Ayres from the fifties and for several decades a newspaper editor for the town's paper It's in many ways my kind of quiet story that's introspective and all about the writing and the characters Ned leaves his town but never really seems freed from what happened when he makes a decision to accept a story that ruins a family there He moves to Chicago then Washington DC always on to a bigger paper perhaps a bigger life but yet Ned's life seems as stagnant as the town he came fromOn the one hand it's about the newspaper industry about what is news and what should be printed what's a violation of privacy about the ethnics of journalism and fading print media being overtaken by digital On the other hand and mostly for me it's as much about the man who sees a higher calling to what he does It's not just a higher calling but almost an obsession He claims to be in love with the woman he loses but yet he is concerned with his life at the paper than with living life and having a loving relationship He reminds me a bit of William Stoner Stoner believing there is something about his calling that is above all else I found it quite sad I had a hard time connecting with Ned as he is as emotionally distant from the reader as he was from the women in his life The closest I felt to a connection was when as a young boy he visited his mentally ill uncle who told him stories of the war Ned's father tells him to remember they the stories are not factual But yet Ned is taken with the stories I have to admit I was taken with this story in spite of the lack of connection to Ned so I'll round up to 4 starsI received an ARC of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through Edelweiss


  2. says:

    35 stars Here's the scoop on what I liked about The Eastern ShoreThere's something oddly mesmerizing about the writing The narrative drifts from from one perspective to another from one thought to another without being entirely true to chronology but generally moving forward The focus is on print journalism The main character Ned Ayres is an editor and we see him through different time periods in his life in different jobs starting in a small town and ending in Washington DC The story is full of interesting insights and musings about journalismThere's a melancholy persistent loneliness to Ayres that Just depicts really wellJust does a great job evoking the feel of the decaying small town in which Ayles grew up including his parents and their expectationsHere's the scoop on why I landed on 35 stars rather than 4It kind of petered out for me at the end and started feeling a twinge boring Still worth readingThank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy


  3. says:

    There is a famous adage for novelists “write what you know” Ward Just has always done so and fortunately for his readers he knows a lot He launched his career as a print journalist for the Waukegan Illinois News Sun worked as a correspondent for Newsweek and The Washington Post and fully understands the inner workings of journalism and its influence on Americans’ personal livesThe Eastern Shore – his latest book – focuses on Ned Ayres who hails from a humdrum Indiana town of Herman and defies his father a judge to become his hometown’s city editor “Some people don’t live in the light of day” Ned says at one point “They prefer shadows a natural habitat Shadows become them”Ned lives in the shadows There is almost an element of Henry James’ Beast in the Jungle in him his is in many aspects a life unfulfilled There are romances yes and there are high points but mostly his life is lived as a “procession of newspaper stories ‘shorts’ they were called” One could say in newspaper parlance that Ned lives “below the fold”Accordingly The Eastern Shore is a quiet book It’s a book about stories – the stories we tell ourselves the stories we invent the stories that we create about others and eventually the stories that sustain us and give an organization and meaning to our livesWard Just signals his intent by starting the book with Uncle Ralph the brother of Ned’s father Uncle Ralph is a veteran of the Great War whose “memory was phenomenal story after story rumbling from it in a husky baritone” Problem is the stories only have a kernel of truth in them His father tells Ned to believe them if he wants to but to remember that the stories are not factualAs Ned embraces his life as an editor he becomes – quite literally – the person who gives shape to the stories It is he who identifies the high and low points of a person’s life and determines what will be revealed Paradoxically he reveals little of himself “Editing was as invisible as the work of a careful tailor” Ward Just writes No trace of the editor is left behind Yet as he ages he is painfully aware that the newspaper business is dying as fickle readers clamor for social media innovation In essential ways he is twinned with the business he gave his life to soon it is implied neither will exist and only the stories will remainThose who are seeking a propulsive narrative that will raise their adrenalin would be better looking elsewhere The Eastern Shore is a contemplative book interweaving the themes of privacy and morality but concentrating most on one’s own inner stories It is a fine addition to Ward Just’s many fine books I recommend American Romantic Rodin’s Debutante and An Unfinished Season for those who want to explore


  4. says:

    The newspapers are supposed to print the truth But sometimes it is just “factual enough” and can cause harm to others “My God you think what have I done? In all innocence But innocence is not the excuse Innocence is the cause And we are appalled those of us who are in charge The others turn the page”Much of Ward Just’s tour de force is about the newspaper industry and about the people who create or become the printed “piece” And it also illuminates the fallout from scrutiny and intrusion The protagonist Ned Ayres has been in the industry all his adult life He started his career in his native berg of Herman Indiana the butt of many jokes about its provincial prejudices and Pleasantville type pretensions along with a brittle shield of cognitive dissonance Ned later went on to be an editor in Chicago and then to Washington DC The powerful people who own the newspapers are the ones whose privacy is the most protected but they thrive on exposing those who aren’tNed Ayres grew up on the embellished stories his uncle told him about his years as a soldier in the Great War At only 52 he lived in a nursing home impaired from a grenade Ned’s father a circuit judge known for his rectitude and dry wit on the bench often reminded Ned that these were non factual stories Neddy didn’t care he loved listening to his uncle anyway and these years may have been his inspiration for becoming a newspaperman and even his reliance occasionally on stories that were “factual enough”Ward Just often writes novels that narrate at arm’s length—cool rather detached and emotionally indirect However compared to his earlier work I think THE EASTERN SHORE is intimate and stirring although subtle nothing overwrought or electrifying but poignant and even bracing in its refined nuance There were times that I felt a melancholy sorrow while reading especially when Ned was recalling a newspaper story that destroyed a family and affected him for the rest of his career The theme and moral inquiry of sifting through others’ lives as a profession hit home with enduring concerns Over the course of the novel Ned and his personal and public life touched me with its authenticity There wasn’t one false note in this quiet but unsentimentally tender story The backstories are gently folded into the present time and events and experiences of other characters that touched Ned’s life took on their own velocity It was written in the third person but the view from Ned’s perch and those close to him was key to engaging the reader Ayres and the people close and peripheral to him came fully aliveNed’s profession informed the decisions he made in his private life for better or worse His ability to sustain a relationship was often interfered by the demanding work of the newspaper Ironic also were the consequences of being the editor He stood back from creating he corrected proofed and chose many of the pieces yet remained on the outside of the writers’ work At times he questioned the veracity of being the assembler dissembler attenuator rather than the journalistreporter“Editing was as invisible as the work of a careful tailor No one outside the newsroom could say Nice edit because readers never saw the edit They saw the results of the edit The edit was the live heart beating against the skin essential yet concealed crafted to endure It was the mirror of the sea”The power of this book and Ward Just’s narrative is the quiet elegantly bespoke prose straightforward but superbly metaphoric and no tricks to move the reader via cunning or contrived drama The beauty tragedy and triumphs of the human condition shone through with delicacy and strength even rogue coarseness at times “The reporter sought coherence but there was no coherenceWhirl ruled And the facts fell willy nilly from an overburdened tree yet habitually a few facts short As for the newsroom cynicism the worst thing a reporter could be called was naïve A parasol in a pigsty”Read it for the passages for the pellucid prose for the workings and the cultivation of the news and the people who control it Read it to affirm the pleasure of an unassuming masterpiece


  5. says:

    There are so many 5 star reviews on this book but the story just wasn’t for me It didn’t hold my interest and I thought the main character Ned Ayres was dull I couldn’t bring myself to care about him or his life I finally came to the realization that there just wasn’t enough of a story to keep going and gave up at 50%


  6. says:

    With each book Ward Just keeps getting better all the time If this is how he's spending his retirement it's time well spent His protagonist Ned Ayres in his retirement is attempting his memoir trying to make a book out of a life lived married as it were to his work as a news editor From his earliest years in a small Indiana town he knew what he wanted to do and despite his father's wishes pursued it successfully There is Just's trademark disconnected style evidence of his own experience as a reporter But then again as one character beautifully named Gunnar Tribes points out it's not what is said but what is between the lines Each section presents a vignette of Ayres's life and while his choices are not conventional they forge a life of his own choosing Ayres also embodies the life arc of the publishing business from its time of influence and power through its struggles to remain viable with the rise of the Internet Highly recommended


  7. says:

    Ah the joy of newly discovered authors Last year I read Wallace Stegner for the first time and now it is Ward Just I have had his books on a to read list for a few years but just got around to getting one from the library Despite the overall lower rating for this book by others I loved it It got a little long winded in the 2nd to last chapter but overall I thought the story of a newspaperman an editor not a reporter was unique and has a very good perspective on things and brings up a lot of good ethical matters that make me ponder about the role of the press and papers in society I gave up reading the paper a few years ago but might just resubscribe to one based on this book We have gone from journalists to social media pundits The books raises that question along with privacy issues and really was much than I had even expected with the book It is a tale of a small boy from a small town who never goes to college but begins working for a local paper and after about 20 years has been in his hometown Muncie Indianapolis and Chicago before making it to Washington DC Some of what happened in his hometown still haunts him and may explain the way he is But he was a person who put the newspaper before anything else in his life and when he will die he has no family since all his immediate family died and he never married all because there was nothing important than the paper Lots to think about in this wonderful 200 page novel


  8. says:

    This felt like a very long 208 page novel I'm not complaining though and it was all pretty wonderful Is it a love letter to the newspaper business? Is it a thinly veiled memoir of Just's life loves career? Is it even a novel? Doesn't matter The long chapters could be read as stand alones connected by the character of Ned Ayres and although the jacket copy suggests that the centerpiece is the ruinous effects of Ned's paper running a particular story I'm not really confident that is the fulcrum Perhaps The best scene for me remains the one I cited in my status update the late night whiskey fueled grief tinged conversation between Ned and the novelist Michael which could be read as a dialogue between two aspects of Ward Just's self Perhaps A Dangerous Friend remains my favorite Just novel but I've been living with this one for 25 days and I liked this a lot It's subtle mature and elegiac


  9. says:

    A properly edited page was a thing of beauty thinks Ned Ayre the protaganast of Ward Just's new novel The Eastern Shore Contemplating his life dedicated to the news trying to write his memoirs Ned feels like an archaelogist 'assembing fragments of a dead civilization The man who worked magic with his blue pencil editing other's stories could not create order from the threads of his life his 'Rosebud' moment eluding himNed's love of the news is an obsession that divides him from his parents and his lovers a love affair that ends badly as the newspapers decline and close no longer valued or profitableIn this introspective novel Just probes the stories of our life the fictions we weave like Ned's Uncle Ralph and his WWI stories that never happened but which he believes happened the untold truth buried because it does not make good press the stories that should never have been told and ruin lives I was left feeling mournful and contemplative by this novel I understood Ned's longing to break out of his small town a place of changeless comfort and sureity And I mourned his inability to make sense of his lifeSome will say there is not plot action too much of the story is shared through story telling But I was compelled by the novel it recalled to mind many who dedicate their lives to something they believe in only to find after 40 years that what they loved has become meaningless and unvalued How could anyone live without the news young Ned thinks in amazement Yet he lives into a world where the news and the great stories are left behind Change betrays us allBetween the lines we come to understand what Ned learned the hard way the paper thin line between all the news we need to know and all the news how factual reporting can cross the line into the sacred and the privateI requested this book through Edelweiss because several years ago I read Ward Just's novel An Unfinished Season and it left a lasting impression on me I am even impressed with Just after reading this bookI received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbaised review


  10. says:

    Ward Just writes about the heartland middle America and those who populate it He views this part of our nation and its people with a certain sensibility bordering on disdain These people don't want to stand out they are WASPS who don't allow for many differences they marry pretty girls who soon age and are no longer attractive They stay in the small home towns where they are born and never wander much further Herman Indiana is the place where this novel begins and from whence Ned Ayre came and can't wait to leave When Ned visits Herman as an adult he states that his red car is the only color that stands out in this dissolving townNed is a bit oppositional as he defies his father by not going to college More to the point he wants to be a journalist and his father a local judge highly disapproves Ned's father views journalists as the lowest of the low the scum of the earth Is this the fraternity to which his son wants to belong? This theme of fatherson relationships is found in other novels by Just and like this novel there is often tension and conflict in the family regarding the path that the son takesPortions of Ned's life are the heart of this book beginning with his childhood and finalizing with his old age I couldn't feel close to Ned nor could I get a good feel for who he is The writing is too postured too concerned with defining the ambience and environment of the 'outside' and not concerned enough about who Ned actually is There is too much about journalism for my taste and how it evolves from pencil and paper to internet and social media Another issue I had was that there were no quotation marks in the book I could follow who was speaking and what was being said but it felt like a gimmick than a necessity and I had to wonder why Just chose to write this way I wish I could have enjoyed this book but ultimately it wasn't my cuppa tea