For me, the most significant aspect of every Oz book I ever read as a child — or later reread to my son several decades later — was never simply the stories and characters they conveyed. Rather, they resounded with visions of my mother’s childhood in San Francisco, a landscape as far away and interesting to my youthful imagination as the color-coordinated kingdoms of the Winkies, Quadlings, Gillikins, and Munchkins.
For 68 years, 365 days a year, Ms. Richards has been the gatekeeper of an industry built on easing elopement. In fact, it was her entrepreneurial ingenuity that led to the creation of the famed one-stop-shop business model, which became the standard on the Strip.
But it’s no secret that marriage rates in the United States have dwindled significantly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and that shifting social values coupled with the burdens of student debt have made tying the knot for millennials unfeasible or unappealing, and sometimes both.
“I don’t know what the longevity of the wedding industry is,” said Ron Decar, 61, the owner of the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel, a three-minute walk down the boulevard. Although he was wearing his full Elvis get-up, complete with a bedazzled jumpsuit and black pompadour, his tone was gravely serious.
If Room forced home truths on us, about parenthood, responsibility and love, Akin deals with similar subject matter more subtly, but in the end just as compellingly; like Noah and Michael, the books are superficially different, but fundamentally connected. This is a quietly moving novel that shows us how little we know one another, but how little, perhaps, we need to know in order to care.
But for this Constant Reader, King displays a revitalized writing style that I have not seen — or, rather, felt — since Duma Key (the friendship between Edgar Freemantle and Jerome Wireman is beyond touching and enduring), and for that I commend him. All in all, I cannot help but agree with Luke Ellis’s mother when he asks her, “Do you think memory is a blessing or a curse?” and she replies, “Both, dear.” The memory of The Institute I will carry is little Avery Dixon perhaps channeling the final lines of Tom Robbins’s book Still Life with Woodpecker: “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” But I will also carry the burden, or curse, of a first impression artfully and dismayingly destroyed, of knowing the horror that such a small hinge — friendship and decency — is denied to too many children, fictional or real.
On the final page, she admits, “I still have so much more to tell but being such a private person, I might not tell everything … It’s always best to leave the audience wanting more.” Holding back is an understandable maneuver for someone who’s been stared at so much, and it’s not quite right to call Face It evasive. She always comes off as tough and matter-of-fact and New York–y, very much the voice that complained about love as a “pain in the ass” in “Heart of Glass,” or that facetiously took down some “groupie supreme” in “Rip Her to Shreds.” Knowing that there are still those who expect her to be simply “a blonde in tight pants,” she tells her life story how she wants to tell it. And when she gets tired of sharing, Harry is kind enough not to extend a middle finger.