GIVE DAD MY BEST by James Lincoln Collier


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On the most immediate level, as the story of a youngster tempted to steal, this is honest and affecting. Because his musician father squanders money on Paul White-man and Benny Goodman records instead of bringing home milk for the kids, Jack Lundquist takes a weekend job helping the steward at the local yacht club; and after Jack learns that the steward keeps a cache of kickback payments hidden in his office, one watches with dreadful fascination as the logic of a one-time-only theft takes hold of his mind. Strangely, though, the deeper implications of Jack's relationship with his irresponsible father are undercut by the mid-Depression setting: The implication that Dad could always get a ""day job"" to support the family rings false, and one waits for more indication that his troubles aren't all of his own making. Despite the baked bean sandwiches, 12-inch Victor Red Seal records, and Mule Haas baseball gloves, Collier's evocation of the Thirties lacks dimension. But he does have the courage to follow Jack's impulse through to a bitterly successful conclusion; Jack gets some money all right, but suffers the humiliation of attempted extortion by the dishonest steward, and he pays the back rent only to learn that his Dad has decided to pack the children off to relatives anyway. A melancholy riff that's in tune with universal feelings of responsibility and guilt, even if the tone is disappointingly thin.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
Publisher: Four Winds