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Metz's second novel (Catamount Bridge, 1988)--an ecological and romantic melodrama set in northern Vermont--delivers a lackluster story surrounded by strong, even gamy, writing. Walker the lawyer returns to his family's former summer home at Dalton Pond, disillusioned by the city and eager to face his past. He is summoned by Snoot, an aging backwoods rascal whose wife, Frouncy, has had a stroke. Snoot and Frouncy are wild, crusty, Spam-eating yahoos, imbued with forest wisdom and spiritual qualities that city-dwellers like Walker can only aspire to. In fact, as a child Walker all but abandoned his father for their more authentic charms. And Snoot and Frouncy have always accepted Walker; their own son, the legendary athlete Junior, has been a greedy, snarling, unlovable child. But dual dilemmas face Walker: When Junior lost his legs in Vietnam, Walker's beautiful ex-girlfriend, the saintly Claire, married him And now Junior--""pink skin boiled. . .a mutant amphibian, pitifully stranded""--is an unrelentingly evil creature who has sold Snoot and Frouncy's hallowed Abenaki Ledges to developers. But the Ledges are a sacred Indian site; and as Snoot, Frouncy, Claire, and Walker band together to stop the developers, Claire's long-absent father, the last Abenaki, Horton Eagle-in-the-Wind, ghosts in to wreak his vengeance on those who would despoil the environment. The plot is overwrought. The writing groans with campy dialect (""Kick a wounded vet?"" asks Junior when his wife, whom he has bound, gagged, and raped, struggles to get away). And yet Metz displays such confidence and verve that this book can never be mistaken for anything other than the work of a passionate and talented writer.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row