Southern California native Drinkard (Green Bananas, 1989) draws again on familiarity with his region's terrain and quirky lifestyles—in a brutally comic second novel chronicling the bizarre behavior of a dysfunctional family over five generations. After Eliza and Luther Tibbets had tried in vain for years to have a child, employing every procreative aid and fertility booster Harvard specialists could offer, Eliza turned her mind to oranges. Planting southern California's first navel orange trees in 1885, she nursed a sole survivor through a subsequent drought with the lifeblood of Luther's dog, and convinced her husband that the trees were a mother lode waiting to be mined. A hundred years later—the family line continued by a quick coupling between Eliza and President McKinley, and by Luther's marrying the child when she comes of age—the last of the Tibbets family's acres of groves is under siege by the husband of Eliza's great-granddaughter Mavy. Franklin Wells, a true-blue yuppie who fell off the corporate fast track at Solvtex when his idea for expanding the business was stolen from him and implemented with fantastic success, married Earth-mother Mavy on the rebound. His plans to develop her groves, however, eventually put an end to their marriage; she disappears mysteriously after walking out on him, but their teenage son Aaron will protect his heritage with a vengeance—until a catastrophic mudslide effectively separates him from his past. Apocalyptic, black comedy from first to last: at times uncontrolled and plotless—but never dull.
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