Books by Dana Andrew Jennings

ME, DAD & NUMBER 6 by Dana Andrew Jennings
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1997

Jennings (for adults, Lonesome Standard Time, 1996, etc.) makes his picture-book debut with the story of Number 6, an inoperative 1937 Pontiac coupe that Andy's father tows home behind his pickup one Saturday. Whenever they can find time, Dad, his pals, and Andy work on the car, and in two months it emerges shiny and grand and ready for stock-car racing. While his father drives, Andy and his mother watch from the sidelines, their ears filled with the roar of the engines. The child loves the excitement, and he's bitterly disappointed when Number 6 gets smashed beyond repair in the last race of the year. His father is more sanguine, noting all the fun they've had and preparing to find another car. Some lyrical moments are all but spoiled by the unevenness of Andy's narration; when he says that he and his father looked like ``grubby monsters that lived in the tailpipe,'' he sounds his age, but ``the house drowsed quiet'' is adult, and the tears he cries as ``thick and slow as dirty motor oil'' vanquish both poetics and authenticity. Sasaki's realistic watercolors warmly evoke the rural setting, racetrack excitement, and affection between father and son. One quibble: The trees are as leafed out and green in March as they are at the end of the racing season, months later. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
LONESOME STANDARD TIME by Dana Andrew Jennings
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1996

A backwoods village becomes hell on earth in Jennings's (Mosquito Games, 1989, Women of Granite, 1992) newest heavy-handed saga of bleak prospects and endlessly battered souls in up-country New Hampshire. Along the Whispering Turnpike, a dead-end road whose culminating mountain of gravel is a favorite of suicide drivers, Hank Rodgers makes his way home. After 15 years away from Hunt's Station, he finds that it and its inhabitants have taken a turn for the worse. The ubiquitous toxic dumps of Hunt Waste Management have fouled earth, air, and heart, leaving all in their vicinity (except the ravens and crows, which thrive) at death's door. Hank's return lightens the gloom: He fans the desire of 17-year-old Maggie Parriss, the last child born in town, to leave and not look back; he rekindles the passion of his ex-lover Clare Hunt, daughter of the evil dump-owner turned invalid and recluse; he plays the prodigal son to his bitter, wasted, banjo-wizard father, who for years has mesmerized Hunt's Station with his woeful, wailing country music but has recently used his banjo to bash in the skull of a reporter snooping around the town's subterranean fires and open pits. Hank brings matters to a head, though, when he takes Dad's old souped-up Pontiac down the Turnpike to challenge his own demons and in the process runs over Dirty Willy, the company foreman/hitman, who crawls back to his boss's biggest pit, sets himself ablaze, and jumps in, knowing that the ensuing conflagration will consume everything. Hank joins the survivors, but his father pays the price for his crime, joining old man Hunt in waiting for the flames to release them. Making a virtue of the absence of subtlety seems to be Jennings's m.o., but this willfully overwritten story, like his others, is in this case both overwrought and ludicrous: a cartoon- novel in which the effects are as striking as they are strikingly superficial. (Author tour) Read full book review >
WOMEN OF GRANITE by Dana Andrew Jennings
Released: July 20, 1992

Yankee gothic meets Thelma and Louise as Jennings (Mosquito Games, 1989) attempts to give undeserved significance to the Page women of Granite, New Hampshire. The Page family, headed by matriarch Nanna Page, ``who'd never dared to lay claim to infallibility, but who'd considered the possibilities,'' has eked out a marginal existence in run-down shacks in Page Village on a hillside above the town. Page men have been congenitally weak, always secondary to their women, who've never been timid about teaching them a lesson—even if it involves locking a favorite son in a shed and setting it on fire, a scene that Sarah, the protagonist, witnessed as a child when Grandmother Nanna found out that son Billy had raped his niece. Sarah, who also saw the rape, had been abandoned by their mother, Ella, a victim of ``Nanna's claws,'' who'd first tried to sell her. She's now a young grandmother whose grief has turned inward. When son Wayne and his wife Charlotte sell their baby, Sarah walks out—literally—and heads for strong daughter Hannah, who as a child had helped Sarah through her depression by staying home from school to prevent her mother from committing suicide. Alternating with flashbacks to the past, Sarah, now pregnant, helps Hannah with her own breakdown, then returns home to find Charlotte living with her husband Russ, and Wayne dumping toxic chemicals in the woods. Determined to stop him, she takes drastic action. Like grandmother Nanna, ``she sniffed his weakness and went for the throat. She wanted him, for once, to be held accountable, to face up to what he'd done.'' After Wayne's dealt with, Sarah contentedly raises her baby and savors ``whatever small truths may catch in her modest nets.'' Pretentious writing and gratuitous exploitation of fashionable themes, with stock characters in an equally worked-over setting. Still, faint glimmers of promise. Read full book review >