NORDI'S GIFT by Clyde Rice


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An overblown, 451-page sequel to Rice's well-received autobiography, A Heaven in the Eye (1984). This memoir begins where the earlier book ends, in 1934, when Rice was 31. He has returned to his native western Oregon with his wife, Nordi, and their son, Bunky. Rice's woodcutting business fails, and he develops an attraction to his wife's niece, Virginia, then seduces the 18-year-old, who is half his age. Rice alternately castigates himself (not convincingly) and wonders what could draw him to ""a simple child of a backward family,"" concluding: ""It could only have been her eyes that enslaved me."" He builds a rammed-earth house on the Clackamas River, works in the shipyards during WW II, and finally confesses his two-year liaison with Ginny to Nordi, who forgives him but says he must choose between them. Rice lights out for Alaska for six months to make up his mind, then offers to separate from Nordi for two years with the promise that afterward he'll come back to her if she'll have him. Instead, he asks for a divorce, which Nordi angrily grants, and secretly marries Ginny. After a few years she remarries, and soon dies. Clyde settles down in his rammed-earth house with Ginny and begins to write of his beloved Oregon and his life as a ""creature of the woodland."" Sometimes lyrical, but often long-winded and overgrown with detail.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Breitenbush--dist. by Taylor