A terrible swift exile

Finding Hope in the Age of Melancholy.
By David S. Awbrey. Little Brown, 255 pp.

In prose as lean and well defined as a tree on the Kansas plains, David S. Awbrey explores the seemingly endless, empty hallway one may enter after smashing down the door to success. Awbrey presents himself as an antihero who sets out to become a Kansas editor in the tradition of William Allen White, the "sage of Emporia" who once stood at the moral center of the journalistic universe. But when Awbrey achieves his goal, he finds himself in an abyss of emptiness.

The myth of Faust and his famous bargain with Satan structures Awbrey's book. Though raised in a tradition that emphasized giving something back to society, he nevertheless viewed himself as a tough, cynical journalist, and gloried in his reputation for being arrogant. His motto was that "95 percent of everything is crap."


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