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Miller's novel is one that many an aging writer has promised to dig out of himself but has yet to put his spade to: it is about the impact of WWII on the old hometown. Miller's town is Ventury, Ohio, near Cleveland, pop. 1400 during the year 1943. His success is in his saturation with period phrases and single catchwords, ration stamps, FDR, roadhouses, war gloom, the young enlistees being trained at college, etc. Equally, he is at home with smalltown moods, simmering summer thunder at evening, a small boy delivering papers at 4 A.M., and with a clutch of midwestern types. The main theme that fathers are realists and sons dreamers lacks compelling force but does lend a scheme. Among the fathers none manages to escape his type. The three main sons are a nine-year-old, who is very well done, and two college-age best friends, Boyd and Dewey. Boyd is simply the representative naif, while Dewey is cursed with such glamorous features that his beauty leads to a tragic homosexual incident. The girls are all knockouts and some thirty or more sex acts are recorded, many graphically. The story's strongest quality is the sons dialogue, their gathering maturity and disillusion. Also, the sex-centricity is quite apropos to adolescent agonies and smalltown families. The final tragedy doesn't convince, but there is much to be read and admired in this honest depiction of WWII backcountry Ohio.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday