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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Books "THE COMPANY YOU KEEP"



Judul Asli : THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
By Neil Gordon
Copyright © Lock Bets, Inc., 2003
Published in Penguin Books 2004
Cover design by Joe Montgomery
Cover photography by Wally McNamee / Corbis (left), Alice Attie / Nonstock (right)
Total page : 408 ; book edition [ Goodreads
Genre : Political Action Thriller
Rate : 3,5
[ this review is written as a request from the publisher in Indonesia | written both in Bahasa Indonesia and  English ]

Kisah ini dibuka dengan sebuah surel yang dikirimkan oleh seorang ayah terhadap putrinya, yang telah sekian tahun hidup terpisah dan tak saling berhubungan. Semula ada sedikit kebingungan dalam menelaah halaman-halaman awal kisah ini. Terutama ketika membaca sinopsis kisah, yang menggambarkan kisah tentang pelarian sosok yang merupakan tersangka pelaku pembunuhan dan terlibat dalam organisasi radikal di masa 20 tahun silam. Kemudian secara perlahan, mulai terbentuk sebuah gambaran, tentang apa sebenarnya kisah dibalik terputusnya hubungan seorang ayah dan putrinya, serta masa lalu yang kelam, menyangkut dunia politik serta propaganda yang menelan banyak korban.


James Marshal Grant, seorang pengacara di Albany, New York, hidup berdua dengan putrinya Isabel ketika sebuah peristiwa yang terlihat tidak berkaitan dengan kehidupannya, justru menjadi titik tolak yang menjungkir-balikkan kehidupannya. Dimulai dengan sebuah berita tentang penahanan wanita bernama Sharon Solarz – yang merupakan buronan sekian tahun, tersangka pelaku perampokan bank yang menewaskan salah satu penjaga pada tahun 1974. Nama Sharon juga terkenal karena ia merupakan anggota kelompok radikal anti peperangan di tahun 1966, yang dikenal sebagai kelompok Weather Underground. Kelompok ini telah melakukan perusakan serta pemboman di berbagai properti pemerintahan sebagai salah aksi protes mereka. Dan pada peristiwa perampokan tersebut, salah satu pelaku tertangkap, sedangkan ketiga komplotannya menghilang tanpa jejak, hingga salah satunya : Sharon muncul dan tertangkap, 20 tahun kemudian.

[ source ]
Kemudian terjadi keanehan, James menghilang tanpa jejak bersama putrinya. Semula semua kenalannya menduga ia sengaja melarikan diri dari tuntutan hukum yang dilancarkan oleh istrinya, yang menuntut hak asuh sepenuhnya terhadap putri mereka yang berusia 11 tahun. Namun seorang wartawan muda bernama Benjamin Schulberg, melihat kejanggalan pada peristiwa ini dan akhirnya mengungkap rahasia dibalik pelarian James Grant. Ia melarikan diri karena nama aslinya adalah Jason Sinai – salah satu anggota Weather Underground dan tersangka pelaku perampokan bank di tahun 1974 tersebut. Maka dimulaih pencarian besar-besaran pada diri Jason Sinai, dari pihak berwajib hingga Benjamin yang bertekad menuliskan berita besar tentang tertangkapnya salah satu buronan paling dicari di Amerika. Namun Jason lenyap, meninggalkan jejak-jejak palsu yang mengecoh pihak-pihak yang mencarinya. Hingga suatu hari, di saat semua pihak mulai putus asa, terjadi keanehan lain yang membawa mereka pada jejak Jason Sinai.

Dari satu adegan menuju adegan lain, ketegangan serta rasa penasaran mengiringi kisah ini. Apa sebenarnya yang hendak direncanakan oleh Jason ? Mengapa ia justru mengambil langkah-langkah yang tak diduga oleh pihak-pihak yang mencarinya ? Sepanjang perjalanan pelarian Jason dari satu tempat ke tempat lain, berbagai pertanyaan yang menyelubungi benak semenjak awal kisah mulai terjawab, namun disertai konsekuensi, muncul pertanyaan baru yang tak kalah rumitnya. Ibarat sebuah lukisan raksasa, yang dipecah menjadi pecahan puzzle yang sangat kecil dan tak beraturan, maka dibutuhkan kesabaran serta konsentrasi penuh guna memahami dan menyusun satu demi satu petunjuk yang diberikan.

[ source ]
Sedikit hambatan yang terjadi, disebabkan karena penulis membuat format yang cukup janggal dalam menyampaikan keseluruhan kisah ini. Alih-alih menulis dalam kisah suspense, beliau justru membuat seperti kisah drama, berupa rangkaian surel yang bercerita tentang peristiwa serta kejadian di masa lalu. Sang penerima surel adalah Isabel Montgomery yang telah berusia 17 tahun, dan pengirimnya sebuah kelompok yang menamakan diri mereka ‘The Committee’ – yang terdiri dari sang ayah James Grant / Jason Sinai, sang wartawan Benjamin Schulberg, kekasih James : Molly Sackler, dan beberapa karakter lain yang cukup banyak. Semuanya memegang peran penting atau paling tidak kehidupan mereka bersinggungan dengan awal mula peristiwa yang berbuntut pada kejadian di masa 1966. Sehingga pada awal-awal kisah, kesan membosankan sekaligus membingungkan, nyaris menghentikan penyelesaian pembacaan kisah ini.

Ditambah dengan berbagai topik seputar dunia politik yang terjadi di Amerika di era tahun 1960-an, saat Amerika melakukan propaganda menghapus Komunisme dengan melancarkan serangkaian peperangan di kawasan Asia, mulai dari Perang Vietnam hingga Kamboja, hingga kebijakan serta skandal besar yang berimbas pada Perang Dingin yang berkepanjangan. Meski sejarah merupakan topik yang cukup menarik untuk disimak, namun penulis tampak terbentur pada terlalu banyak topik yang hendak disampaikan, hingga tiada kesan khusus yang menarik perhatian, selain bagai mengurai benang kusut yang terjalin di sana-sini. Selain faktor tersebut, kisah ini layak untuk disimak lebih jauh, dan menjelang pertengahan hingga akhir, berbagai misteri mulai terpecahkan, dan sungguh menakjubkan bagaimana penulis membawa kisah ala drama keluarga menjadi sebuah konspirasi yang melibatkan banyak oknum yang tak terduga. Kisah ini juga menarik perhatian Robert Redford, hingga beliau melakukan adaptasi ke layar lebar, sekaligus berperan sebagai Jason Sinai, berhadapan dengan Shia LaBeouf sebagai Benjamin Schulberg, dan penyanyi cilik Jackie Evancho sebagai Isabel Grant / Montgomery. Filmnya direncanakan akan rilis di Amerika pada tanggal 5 April 2013.

[ source ]
My Random Though :
When I first read the preview of this book, I’m thinking the story about running aroud fugitive – wanted by laws while he also had obligation for his family (remind me a little bit the movie played by Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones called ‘The Fugitive’), but instead having a suspense-thriller story, my impression on the first chapter are quite confuse and boring. It’s open with a long e-mail by a father to his daughter, who appearently did not stays together or has been separated for a long time. Then follow by several others e-mail, also send it to this daughter (her named Isabel Montgomery, age seventeen, live in London, England), with different names, different person. After several pages, then I begin ‘starting’ quite understood about the relationships between all those characters, who tells a different stories to Isabel, trying to explain some incident happens almost ten years ago, that also had influence by the history of the past – happends on twenty years ago from the last ten years on the current event (quite confusing right?).

Reading this book really need a little-bit passion on some consentration, ‘cause not every characters ‘sticks’ on the basis facts, while told a stories that happens years ago. Some of them just cut to the main facts, some of them doing ‘nostalgia’ about the past (like reading some letter from old folks, telling their memories of the past). Not the mention so many things and topics coming-crossed in this e-mail, so it’s important to collect and build the ‘big-picture’ from pieces of this puzzles. Aside from too many information and the topics of the culture and politics happen on America around 1960, this story finally got my attention in the middle through the end of the story (yes, be passion while reading the first pages).

[ source ]
The main story is about a man named James Marshal Grant – a lawyer living in Albany, New York with his daughter Isabel (she is a around ten or eleven). James was a good man, love and caring for his daughter, raise her by him self since his wife Julia Montgomery, had sent back to his father Senator Montgomery for healing and recovering from her drug-addiction. Then on the year 1996, something happen that changing their whole life. Start with the conversation between James and his client Billy Cusimano – a big drugs delear, who had been on the ‘secret-monitoring’ by FBI. This conversation that mention somebody name : Sharon Solarz – most wanted fugitive as the terrorist from the radical group back on 1966, called ‘the Weather Underground’. FBI using this ‘illegal-information’ to find Sharon, and capture her after several years on the run and hiding.

Then James Grant missing !! He running away with his daughter, no one knows where he is, not even his girlfriend. Everybody first thinks he running away ‘cause Julia action, she sued her husband to fight in court for custody of their daughter. His action, may consider as a kidnaping his own daughter. But while the police searching him for this battler of custody, there’s another person who thinks his runaway rather suspicious. This person are young reporter, Benjamin Schulberg, and he the one who find the real reason why James Grant running away. It had something to do with Sharon Solarz, ‘cause James Grant actually Jason Sinai – another fugitive on the robbery in 1974 who killed innocent person. Sharon, Jason and other person Mimi Lurie is a member of Weather Underground – the radical antiwar group, who done several treats on government property.

[ source ]
Now the story got heated when James / Jason had a lot to take, trying to safe his daughter life from her drug-abuse-mother, but also has to run for his life. This man had already escape back then, hiding and got new identity, he is a master on living a fugitive. But then his next action, makes everyone confuse, no one understood what is his mind, what he planning to do. Then all the suddenly, everybody who involve in what happen twenty years ago, one by one appears on the surface. The one who still hiding, had been pursue by Jason, ‘cause he need many help to save his life, and his family he love. The secret that had been hidden deep, avoiding and breaking the laws, conspiracy in higher places, makes this story got intense and eye-opening until the end.

One thing I feels a bit annoying, too much details and information on the politics, antiwar protest, government policy and the act of killing (America’s war on several Asia’s country, like in Vietnam, Cambodia, and others), well --- it’s not interest me much, maybe ‘cause is happen on the year way back before I even born. So I’m not interesting ‘cause I don’t quite understood the topics well enough, and so many description on those all over the story. But if those long dialog maybe cut or deleted (in my case, I just skip it until the next page), it’s gonna be interesting story. I also hear that the movie adaptation gonna be around this year. Produce and played by Robert Redford (my idol *grin*) as James Grant / Jason Sinai and collaborate with Shia LaBeouf as Benjamin Schulberg ... I just can imagine how  interesting it’s gonna be (^_^)
   
[ source ]
About the author :
Neil Gordon was born in South Africa in 1958. He holds a Ph.D. in French literature from Yale University, worked for many years at The New York Review of Books, and is currently the literary editor at The Boston Review and on the faculty of Eugene Lang College at the New School University. His journalism has appeared in Tin House, Tricycle, and Salon and he reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review and other periodicals. He is the author of two previous novels, Sacrifice of Isaac and The Gunrunner’s Daughter.

[ more about the author, book, and related adaptations, check on here : The Company You Keep | Neil Gordon's Books | Movies Adaptation | The Company You Keep (2012) ]

Best Regards,
* Hobby Buku * 
 

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