WHAT SHE TOLD HIM by Carolyn Doty


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A story of roots which torment when misunderstood, that heal when clarified--by the author of A Day Late and Fly Away Home. Cal Newkirk is the son of Carlotta McKellen, a war hero's widow who's raising her son alone in a small town. But what Cal learns from a high-school friend is that Carlotta was once raped, made pregnant (with Cal), and forced to flee her own small town, Four Corners. Who then was really Cal's father? Cal never gets to know from his mother, who (too conveniently for credibility) dies after an operation. And very soon the confused and grieving Cal finds himself in a real-life nightmare that confirms his worst fears about his ancestry: he gets involved in a misunderstood incident with a little girl, is charged with child abuse, and sent to prison. So now, feeling himself truly chained to an evil wheel of hereditary karma, Cal searches for his rapist-father in the penitentiary; before his research can get very far, a new trial is ordered; released from prison, he goes directly to Four Corners--to find out if what he's heard is true, once and for all. And it turns out that the tale of rape is a great exaggeration of what was merely a mortifying seduction. . . so finally Cal is restored. The reader's restoration, however, is another matter--after the slog through Doty's colorless, textureless prose, into and out of unbelievable postponements and red herrings, always within Cal's clichÉd inner tumult. (""Callant Newkirk. A complete work of fiction. A name without substance. Was this how it was going to be? The more information he gathered, the less he would know?"") Predictable and attenuated.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Viking