I STILL DREAM ABOUT COLUMBUS by Jack M. Bickham

I STILL DREAM ABOUT COLUMBUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Depression childhood in Columbus, Ohio--as remembered, with sticky nostalgia, by narrator Kenneth John Riley. The central figure in Ken's dreamy recollection of hard times is Pop, of course--who saves very carefully from his radiator-shop job, gives up his dream of country living (""Son, you can't always have everything you want""), buys a house for Mom and the four kids . . . and then promptly has his first heart attack. Other miseries soon follow: jovial Uncle Jack loses his business, commits suicide; Ken shoots his beloved dog by mistake; the family loses everything when the bank fails; they're too poor for a Christmas tree (Ken and sister Gall, in tears, nail some branches to a dead tree trunk). And then the Klan zeroes in on the Catholic Rileys because Ken has refused to identify a hungry Negro who robbed them: thanks to a Klan-connected mortgage-company, the Rileys will eventually lose their house. Bickham, however--as readers of All the Days Were Summer (1981) will recall--is big on silver linings and non-stop platitudes: ""if you work hard enough and keep your nose clean, you'll do slright in this country. . . . We have to believe in people because it's through people that we experience God."" So, despite the many hard-luck happenings here, this is sweetly preachy stuff--only for those partial to unremitting Uplift and patched-knickers nobility.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's