DUFFY'S ROCKS by Edward Fenton


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This sort of bleak naturalism is no longer the fashion in adult fiction, but the longing for escape from a depressed, aging town and a claustrophobic, aging family must still be a powerful theme for young people. Here Timothy Francis Brennan, growing up during the '30's in impoverished Duffy's Rocks, is at first content to spend his Saturdays breathing the sophisticated atmosphere of nearby Pittsburgh. But after realizing that the well-fixed Lachlins, who condescendingly befriend him, feel no sympathy for the poor of Duffy's Rocks, Timothy becomes increasingly obsessed with locating the father who deserted him and Gran seven years before. Running away to New York, Timothy meets a wife and girlfriend also left behind by his restless, irresponsible father and concludes that flight alone is not the answer. Timothy returns home to find Gran on her deathbed and determines to make the best of life with his overstuffed Aunt Anna and Uncle Matt, but secretly he still feels that New York was ""a collection of blank boxes which held everything that you could ever want, if only you had the key."" The Brennan family conversation dominated by disdain for Italian and Slavic ""foreigners"" reflects the Social and cultural isolation of the not-yet-melted melting pot and Timothy -- who must seek a way to be loyal to the family he, after all, loves without being stifled by their surroundings -- holds our allegiance by the honesty of his underarticulated search.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Dutton