THE DAY by Douglas Hobbie


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 Hobbie's second novel (Boomfell, 1991) is a morning-to- midnight chronicle: the single long day of a family's annual Thanksgiving gathering. Beneath the surface proprieties are tremors of angst, uncertainty, and foreboding. Jack Fletcher is a waiting-for-success architect married to Gwen Wells (two kids), and each Thanksgiving--as now--he and his family go to the enviably upscale Connecticut house of Gwen's sister Penny and her investment-broker husband Peter (three kids), the families joined, too, by a set of aging in-laws. Amid the happy-cantankerous crowd of kids and adults, however (including a brassy-but-sexy guest named Liz, brought from college by Penny and Peter's oldest daughter), is an important absence that keeps the hyper-thoughtful Jack moodily preoccupied from page one. Clare Wells, sister of Gwen and Penny, had been the family's black sheep- -leaving home, embracing liberal causes, having a baby (whose?), falling farther out of touch, and then, exactly a year ago, killing herself with pills. Whose fault? Why can't--mustn't--the family talk about it now? Jack's inner musings on the subject are woven among servings of turkey and pie, old family jokes, and walks in the woods--giving him time to let the reader know that he's an ex- (and still deeply impassioned) lover of the dead Clare; to cop a feel from Liz, the young guest (there's a meaningful secret in her past too); to share a joint; and, before bed, while musing in the backyard about American history and his father-in-law's prostate cancer, to reveal a recent fling with the lady next door and consider another. Plentiful meditations on everything from aging to AIDS and cancer to the cosmos from a not-very-prepossessing central character. A skillfully woven narrative, in all, that tries hard for meaning but remains a kind of domestic melodrama for the college-educateds.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8050-2519-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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