NEBRASKA by George Whitmore


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From the author of Confessions of Danny Slocum (1985), a spare, lyrical, evocative novel of sexual coming of age. The novel begins in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1956, when narrator Craig McMullen, 12-years-old, darts out in front of a truck, is cut down, and loses his leg. Since the family has been deserted by his drunken father, he's taken care of by his mother and two sisters; but Craig only begins to perk up when his beloved Uncle Wayne arrives home from the Navy, full of energy and big plans. All is shattered, however, when Wayne is arrested in a bus station men's room during a police sweep of homosexuals; it comes out that Wayne has been dishonorably discharged because he's gay. Wayne is also accused (unfairly) of molesting Craig and sent to an institution. In the meantime, Craig's father (no longer drunk, but a crazed born-again Christian) hears of this and attempts to ""rescue"" the boy by kidnapping him; during a nightmarish journey to Denver, Craig is physically and verbally abused, until he's saved by an uncle and his father commits suicide. Whitemore then switches abruptly to 1969, when a lonely, alienated Craig, now in his mid-20s, leaves his uncaring family behind and heads for California to search for Wayne. Finding him is a shock: Wayne has been subjected to some unnamed treatment at the institution (excessive shock treatments or a lobotomy) and has regressed to a Boy's Life version of childhood. Wayne's deeply caring lover is Vernon, an old Navy friend. Craig settles into a strange but somehow comforting life with the two, and finally begins to explore his own feelings of homosexuality. Not a wasted word here--a tough, economical, and finally haunting book about a young man's search for his past and present.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1987
Publisher: Grove