I read and enjoyed this gripping novel several years ago, so why did I recently re-read it? Alexandra York's evocative story and compelling characters had stayed vivid in my memory, but I felt a desire to go back and re-visit it. Now that I have finished it for the second time, I know why: With the signs of cultural deterioration all around us in the U.S. and beyond our shores, it can be difficult to avoid the notion that Western culture is in inevitable decline and that we as individuals are powerless to do anything about it. At those moments when we feel these types of despairing thoughts creeping into our minds, we need to search out and find outstanding and uplifting works of art that dramatize the unique achievements and possibilities that Western civilization represents, works that contain ideas and inspirational characters such as those in York's novel, CROSSPOINTS A Novel of Choice. This remarkable author endeavors, and in my opinion brilliantly succeeds, in dramatizing one of the foundational ideas of Western civilization: the defense of the belief that we as individuals have free will and must exercise it if we are to live lives with meaning and purpose even when immersed in a culture that dismisses or denigrates this belief. A reverence toward this fundamental aspect of our nature is dramatized in York's tale by using the backdrop of today's 21st century arts culture. Each of the principal characters faces personal and/or professional challenges where they must choose to stand by their existing values (right or wrong), pursue new values, or in some cases, re-evaluate the entire direction of their lives. These decision intersections, or "crosspoints" as one of the characters refers to them, require clear-eyed honesty and courageous integrity on the part of the characters for their paths to be successfully traversed. The greater the importance of the value involved, the greater the effort and courage needed to gain, keep, or reject it. Some characters succeed while others fail, but the pursuit of each character's values and overall destiny lies within his or her grasp.
This work can be savored on several different levels. At the most literal level, the plot involves fascinating characters in the fields of archaeology and art that grapple with problems that many of us can relate to such as: 1) a burned out American sculptor trying to win the love of a woman who is diametrically opposed to his world-weary cynicism and passionately loves her own work, and (2) a Greek-American woman archaeologist who is conflicted romantically with feelings toward both the burned-out artist and a former mentor who is secretly in love with her. In short, a volatile love triangle that must be resolved. The author uses her insights into human psychology and her skillful use of dialogue to choreograph the actions of her characters in dramatic and thought-provoking ways, and in so doing reveals the motivations leading to each character's "crosspoint." In following the unfolding series of events, the reader is privy to an intriguing story with characters to really care about.
For readers seeking a deeper, life-enriching literary experience, there are even greater treasures to be mined from this work. Treasures that can be mined by contemplating questions raised by the author such as: (1) How does one survive emotionally and spiritually in a world where one is the creative source for outstanding works of art but whose achievement is not properly appreciated?, and (2) Why would one betray one's talent for the sake of fame and money if forsaking that talent causes that person to morally self destruct?, and (3) Can a person who has turned away from their youthful ideals invest the time and energy to find their way back to their original vision of what is possible in their life? These and other pressing questions are presented with great skill by the author in ways that convey the premise that we as individuals--for better or worse--are the prime movers in our lives and are responsible for our own individual destinies.
As a final bit of literary treasure, the author gives her view on what is an individual's most meaningful and life-affirming pursuit: the activity of creative work. In this reader's view, the author is not restricting creative efforts to works of art. I believe she also holds it to be possible in other realms such as science, business, technology, etc., in short, to all types of human endeavors.
And so to readers who are looking for intellectual, emotional, romantic, and spiritual sustenance, as well as insights concerning why our culture has declined and what can be done to arrest and perhaps even reverse that decline--or at least survive it and revel in individual professional achievement and personal happiness--I urge you to read this book.