THE STORY OF A MILLION YEARS by David Huddle

THE STORY OF A MILLION YEARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This tightly focused study of two marriages and its partners’ carefully guarded inner lives is the first full-length novel from the veteran poet and prose writer whose earlier fiction includes several story collections and the novella Tenorman (1995). Huddle tells the tale through the reminiscences of seven different narrators living at various times in a Cleveland suburb: the result is a kind of suburban midwestern, domestic Rashomon whose finest sequences offer disturbingly candid revelations of how even the most intimate and trusting relationships are fraught with misunderstanding and secrecy. Beautiful Marcy Bunkleman, for example, will never confess either to her parents or her husband the affair she conducted, when only 15, with her mother’s 40ish married friend Robert. Neither Marcy’s self-absorbed husband Allen (nicknamed “A.B.C.”) Crandall nor her best friend Uta will reveal that their friendship led them to a single (shabby) sexual episode—nor will Uta’s deferential “house-husband” Jimmy Rago (who’s also Allen’s old college buddy) let on that he’s guessed their secret, or attempt to act on his lifelong love for the amiable though indifferent Marcy. The emotional gyrations these four push themselves (and one another) through are cast into vivid relief in single sequences that are narrated, respectively, by the aging Robert, who even years afterward cannot come to terms with his feelings for Marcy and memories of his “seduction” of her; by Robert’s unhappy wife Suzanne, who understands her wayward husband’s psyche far better than she knows her own; and finally by Marcy’s adult daughter Suellen, whose climactic view of her mother alone (after Allen has left Marcy) hauntingly underscores the several ways these people have isolated, second-guessed, and, ultimately, both served and cheated themselves. An old story (comparisons to Updike and Cheever are inevitable), but Huddle makes it fresh by giving his characters vividly distinctive personalities—and the rueful honesty to see themselves as the flawed people they have somehow become.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-96605-1
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999




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