Even if you set out reading Abbeville (Unbridled Books) without knowing that Jack Fuller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the author of six novels as well as a work of non-fiction, you would understand that this is the work of a journeyman.
Fuller tells his quiet little story well, managing to build a peaceful muscularity into the tale of Karl Schumpeter. Abbeville is told more or less through the eyes of Karl’s grandson, George Bailey, who after the dot com bomb of the early 2000s, is unwittingly treading in some of his ancestor’s footsteps.
Abbeville is, in a way, the central Illinois town that Karl built, putting together a fortune even while open-handedly creating the kind of place where everyone wants to raise their children. Karl’s way of life comes to an end with the stock market crash of 1929 and the economic Depression that followed. The one time mogul is reduced to raising chickens and doing janitorial duties at the local school. He does both with a dignity that his grandson will only come to appreciate long after Karl is dead.
In this deceptively simple Midwestern-set tale, we discover the universal threads that connect us. What’s important in life? How do we find it? Will we know it when we see it? Fuller’s control is such that he brings us there so easily, we don’t even know we’ve been brought. Abbeville is a gentle masterwork.