Timmy McHugh, 40, an electronics technician in Dedham, Mass., marries Audrey Hunter, 22, who's been working as a secretary...

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GOING TO CALIFORNIA

Timmy McHugh, 40, an electronics technician in Dedham, Mass., marries Audrey Hunter, 22, who's been working as a secretary at the plant. As their honeymoon, they drive cross-country toward California (originally Timmy's home-base)--and in the doing, the differences between Audrey (sheltered, Catholic, and very young) and Timmy (older, used-to-his-freedom), show up sharply. A disastrous meal in an overpriced Chicago restaurant, a wash-out of an overnight visit with one of Timmy's old Air Force buddies, a gambling spree in a Nevada motel/casino--these all shade in how inexpert is the fit between the couple, how differently they react to normal (if honeymoon-dramatic) stresses. And when their car breaks down crossing the Nevada desert, almost stranding them fatally, Audrey and Timmy really let it all hang out: she confesses that she wasn't a virgin (as if he cared); he confesses that he has a nine-year-old son from an earlier, gangrenous marriage. Admittedly, this cross-country trip format is a little commonplace by now. But here it works fairly well: the good news is that Littlejohn clearly has sympathy for the real if polyester sensibilities of the newlyweds, their struggle to absorb the little increments of disappointment and attachments with one another as the trip goes on. The bad news, however, is that this is a book that cries out in padded pain for an editor: the narrative is strung out with minute details and addenda, and it's further drawn thin by the interspersed diary entries of an 1860s pioneer woman (Timmy's great-great-grandmother) that make for an oafishly unsubtle contrast with the here-and-now. A good third, in all, could safely have been whittled off, but wasn't--and so to stay with the best (and plainest) stuff here takes some endurance. Overall: a definite improvement over The Man Who Killed Mick Jagger, but still a fiction talent not fully under control.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980