CHEVROLET SUMMERS, DAIRY QUEEN NIGHTS by Bob Greene

CHEVROLET SUMMERS, DAIRY QUEEN NIGHTS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Syndicated Chicago Tribune columnist Greene (The 50 Year Dash, 1996; Hang Time, 1992; etc.) collects a hundred or so transitory essays celebrating the old human virtues and decrying the new human vices. Clearly, journeyman observer Greene is against moral shortcuts, meanness, and the demise of courtesy. Let there be no doubt: He is all for the eternal verities, homely and straightforward. His views, all under the rubric of ``human interest,'' are Janus-like, totally despairing and happily sanguine by turns. Now he espies endemic moral rot (e.g., parents who beat one of their children and stuff him in a drawer, out of sight); then, just when that seems to be the paranoid theme, he comes up with positively folksy goodness (the persistent cop who senses something amiss and finds the boy's hiding place). One page may despair of ``the coarseness of language, the celebration of violence, the constant devaluation of civility.'' The next page may cheerfully report true parental love or sweet generosity. With datelines from such precincts as Rensselaer, Ind., Ebensberg, Penn., and Bexley, Ohio (his hometown), Greene tells, in eight or nine hundred adroitly crafted words, of wise old people, murdered babies, enthusiastic boosters, grouchy customers, devoted daddies, and brave kids, and all kinds of dramatis personae short of a faithful dog. He interviews a Berkeley student known as ``the Naked Guy'' (for clear reasons). He discovers inspiration at county fairs, Yankee Stadium, and the vast Mall of America. Greene's quotidian passing parade may be one of rampant nostalgia and of sentiment verging on the maudlin, but truth to tell, he's pretty good at it. The stories are generally entertaining and, sometimes, if you're in the right mood, truly moving. A talented journalist in the old tradition serves some traditional apple pie with a bit of corn, and it may just suit a reader somehow predisposed to good feeling.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-670-87032-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997




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