UNDER MY WINGS, EVERYTHING PROSPERS by Curtis Harnack

UNDER MY WINGS, EVERYTHING PROSPERS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In spite of a tendency to over-program for significance, Harnack, in these seven stories, shows the same quick sense of regional speech and ambiance that colored We Have All Gone Away (1973), his memoir of an agrarian childhood in Iowa. Here, in a Midwest setting, two stories deal with isolated women intent on survival outside the mainstream. The ""Voice of the Town"" dictates the destruction of its silent eccentric; in ""Madness,"" an elderly woman who had harbored hippies and paid with incarceration in a mental hospital dies happy in the knowledge that her two children have also opted for lonely independence. In ""My Son Stuart"" and ""The Mistake,"" middle-aged men edge toward dangerous connections--with a restless young son and a wily would-be mistress. There are backward glances to WW II campuses: young men strive to reach girls who have become remote Penelopes grieving in empty rooms; and, in the most moving piece, a teacher doggedly fulfills his office of helping students in need, even though those lives (with their unanswered questions) are inevitably swept forever away. The novella-length tale, ""White Blood,"" takes roommates, a black girl and a white girl, through identity struggles in religion, sex, and race. This is weakened by Harnack's use of warmed-over characters and dialogue: a grotesquerie of liberated nuns, black-militant jargon, and unconvincing Youthtalk. In all--a bit overstuffed, overstated, but you can believe anyone over thirty, particularly if he's at home in the heartlands.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday