MADE IN U.S.A. by Alfred Kern


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Made in U.S.A. isn't as big as it sounds; it's a kind of fictional ""area study,"" in this case showing what life is like among labor management ranks of the United Ore and Metal Workers in a small town north of Pittsburgh. Steve Hamner, a real mover, is sent home there to help direct District 9. He finds a numbers racket in the Braden works, fires some people, copes with the man who is trying to buy and shut down the plant, gets drunk, makes a big speech at a local college. There are some good home scenes with Hamner's tenacious wife, and some inconsequential apartment scenes with Paula, a teacher. At the end, Hamner becomes something of a hero defending the union against those who have roughed him up.... There are lots of names who make small talk, big talk, and one can overhear the author's dramatic, often eulogistic voice. However the novel suffers from its own casual realism; it's almost too much like life to make anyone outside the action care beyond acknowledging the pragmatic truth illustrated, the accommodation of personal integrity to power. Kern wrote a somewhat similar novel back in 1959, The Width of the Waters.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1966
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin