HOME FREE by Dan Wakefield


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From ""Here Comes to Sun"" to Carole King, from ""far out!"" to ""get it on,"" Wakefield conscientiously anchors this surprisingly somber period piece (late Sixties plus) in all the right talk and sounds and causes. Too bad he doesn't have the right hero. Perennial student Gene believes in nothing but ""stew"" and ""living with Lou,"" Lou being the professor-babe he fives with without commitments (""We're both free"") over the Trailways terminal in Boston. So, when Lou feels free enough to start eating and sleeping elsewhere (""Fuck the bouillabaisse!""), Gene wanders off to carnal/healthfood action in Damariscotta, Maine, TM in Iowa City, and the Rock-Dr. Feelgood scene in L.A., where Wakefield's usual satiric sense is briefly activated. It's downhill all the way for homeless Gene, with Venice, Cal. the ""Last Resort"" and heroin the ultimate freedom. And it's downhill for Wakefield, who sends this past-less, pathetic, clinical case (instead of someone we might have hopes for) crosscountry over tired, banal ground. Likable characters wander by--a hopeless wheeler-dealer pushing projects like the North American Curling League, an exuberant Los Angelene who asks, ""How can you go around trying to commit suicide when you haven't even read The Palliser novels?""--and the chapter wherein Gene and friends dream of buying a house to be called ""Home"" suggests the poignancy everything else misses. But the deja vu of drugs-sex-draft-heavy-wow is a mite too fresh to be broadly based nostalgia, and enough pretentiousness (""The Life Hotel"") creeps into Wakefields's detailed, depressing narrative to put off everybody except those with Stop-the-War posters still on the wall and Donovan still on the turntable.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1977
Publisher: Delacorte