THREE-LEGGED RACE by Charles P. Crawford


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Three teenagers confined to the same hospital pass the time and trade wisecracks until a twist of fate -- actually easily anticipated and fraught with facile moral irony -- involves one of them in responsibility for another's death. The three young people are Brent, the narrator and a self-sufficient loner who is recovering from a broken back, gentle Amy who loves growing things and is obviously suffering from something more serious than a ""bad case of mono,"" and Kirk, trapped inside a shell of bitterness that is accounted for -- but not really explained by -- his stereotypically indifferent parents. While Brent mostly looks on from his sickbed, Amy -- apparently allowed free run of the hospital wards -- urges Kirk to get involved with the lonely institutionalized children and even wants to lend a hand in the emergency room. But Kirk's energies are directed towards boredom alleviating escapades and eventually a one night ""escape"" to a local movie that triggers Amy's fatal relapse. The trio's flippant assault on hospital ennui and shared reminiscences of childhood scrapes and embarrassments add up to a readily tolerated dosage of humor and poignancy, but as Amy's notion of responsibility and Kirk's adolescent cynicism seem equally shallow, the conclusion's impact is dissipated. A painless timekiller, but one wouldn't expect the author of Bad Fall (KR, 1972) to be so easily overextended.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1974
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harper & Row