South Dakota farmboy Alan Ross discovers sex, journalism, and a sympathetically psychotic cousin in 1930s Minneapolis--as...



South Dakota farmboy Alan Ross discovers sex, journalism, and a sympathetically psychotic cousin in 1930s Minneapolis--as veteran Manfred (Green Earth, etc.) spins another ripe, sprawling, slightly muddleheaded tale. Alan's a near-albino but a nice-looking guy, a fledgling sportswriter, and city women soon come his way: first there's office chum Irene (who turns out to be married); and then there's bright college freshman Jael, whose prim family (except for niece-molesting Uncle Horace) disapproves of young Alan--who, despite initial qualms, does indeed deflower not-so-innocent Jael. But, in addition to sexual fever (which fades when selfish Jael shows her true colors), Alan has an even greater passion. He has developed an obsession with an imaginary ""haunt"" brother (he had a twin who died), and he feels that he's found this brother in the flesh when he meets ex-farmboy Red Engleking--a sometime boxer who's married to gentle, repressed Jen (another victim of uncle molestation) and who is being driven crazy by his work as a slaughterhouse pig-sticker (evoked here with stomach-churning vividness). Eventually, in fact, Red goes catatonic, stabs Jen nearly to death, and flees--pursued by reporter Alan. And Alan's search reveals that Red is his cousin; that Red's gross farmer-father is the main cause of Red's misery (he branded the un-bloodthirsty lad a coward); and, incidentally, that Alan's mother has always been sexually frigid. Meanwhile, Red is hiding out at a commune of Hutterites--where he learns that the problem with his marriage is that wife Jen is unacquainted with female orgasm. So finally: Red returns, he and now-recovered Jen go to a marriage doc (""Here is where the clitoris is located""), and Alan finds a truer lover than Jael. True, all this thematic emphasis on the stuff of old marriage manuals seems more than a little foolish. And the novel often just rambles as it wends its sometimes uninvolving, not-always-believable way. But, with all these flaws, it's vigorous, virile, grittily atmospheric--and never less than readable.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980