ALL THE WAY HOME by Geoffrey Clark

ALL THE WAY HOME

Stories and Novella
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Six stories and a novella make up this plainspoken collection, Clark's fourth (What the Moon Said, 1983, etc.), featuring characters dwelling in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. More particularly, the vulgarity of men, and their class resentments, figure into these often unclear narratives. The first two stories, ``Advance Creek'' and ``Two-Tone Blue,'' concern Margot Weaver, who, at 15, insists on accompanying her disabled dad when he goes fishing late at night. She ends up being raped by another fishermen. Years later, Margot heads back to Michigan after growing fed up with her aspiring writer husband in Rhode Island; her sister greets her with her own sad tale of love lost. Two other pieces focus on sex and angst: In ``The Sprawl of Things,'' a horny, working-class college kid is seduced by a more sexually sophisticated (upper-class) girl. In ``Cow Love,'' a 17- year-old farm boy is set up for his first sex by his older brother, but gets some solid advice about women from his widowed dad--wear rubbers and do no harm. A jogging vegetarian in ``Necessary Deaths'' rues the roadkill he finds on his early morning runs. ``All the Way Home,'' a lengthy novella, is narrated by an obsessive, insecure writer teaching at a small college in Rhode Island. While he claims that his story is meant to be a paean to his best friend and colleague (the narrator of ``Necessary Deaths''), who is suffering at an early age from Alzheimer's, the tale comes across as something far less pleasant. His ill friend attempts to talk the writer into helping him commit suicide. The writer beds the dying man's wife, but argues that despite this the friendship is still intact. For all its efforts at legend-making, the narrator's portrait proves both men to be dishonest and manipulative. The tough-guy stuff is artless and vulgar, not demotic; the clumsy quotations from Hemingway and others only highlight the strained writing and the naturalistic pretensions on display.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1997
ISBN: 1-888105-18-6
Page count: 160pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997