LUISA DOMIC by George Dennison


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The moving story (if a bit sententious in treatment) of one tragic addendum to Chile's violent and bloody coup in 1971, as a victim, in her agony of grief, is touched and temporarily soothed by two days of loving interplay among a close family, with two friends, in their house in rural Maine. The narrator--husband to loving Patricia and father of three spirited children--muses upon his life as poet, writer and worker with disturbed kids, while drawing strength from the natural beauty around him. There's also a bittersweet awareness of times past and passing as the memory of a photo of his dead mother in her youth fades into the real vision of his living and lively children. Then the visitors arrive: gifted composer Harold, who has left his career for an innovative use of music as therapy; Marshall, poet and political writer; and Luisa, a Chilean, a handsome middle-aged woman of fine intelligence, who ""seemed to be quivering from some dreadful devitalizing blow."" The full extent of the horror--her husband, a sensitive academic, had been killed, and she had witnessed the torture and death of her children--will not immediately be revealed. Harold with his music accompanies her in spirit as she screams in agony; the three Maine children awaken the ghosts of love; and Luisa will speak of her own concert career and of her dead children--as if they were still alive. Harold tells a tale about Houdini and one of his great deceptions; and, from a near-blind old man, the narrator learns something else about manipulating reality to survive. Luisa's death will happen soon after the visit, yet as the narrator explains to his 12-year-old daughter two years later: ""not all the world is like the people who want to run the world. . .the things you find the most of are kindliness and sanity."" As in Oilers and Sweepers (1979), Dennison responds imaginatively to the peculiar sonorities of country life and people--but his eagerness to race toward message here gives his prose a heavy leaden beat. Still, this is a disturbing and affecting tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row