MOVING ON: Stories of Four Travelers by Jan Adkins

MOVING ON: Stories of Four Travelers

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When you read these four separate selections it's best to try to forget Adkins' short foreword in which (calling himself a ""learner"") he declares his homage to Hemingway and his scorn for smug, sports-equipped ""Wonks."" When his prose reminds you too closely of either, it's not to his advantage. All four pieces are plotless celebrations of males alone in the outdoors, and all four characters, with Adkins, relish the details of the experience--luxuriating not only in the contacts with nature and skills of the sport but also in the gear and special clothing. In the case of a skier concentrating on the duds and the motions, and contentedly reserving thoughts of the woman he has left back in the cabin, this becomes embarrassing, unintended parody. (Is the skier a Wonk? One suspects that Adkins doesn't intend him to be, but he doesn't give us enough of him to establish otherwise.) A highway cyclist's near-hymn to the bicycle works better, though again there's little else there. The simplest and most serene selection shows a boy fishing in his sailboat on a ""special"" day, and, in the only story with any tension or development, a backpacker on a walking trip turns out to be fleeing from a wife he'd knocked downstairs. Adkins has a feeling for the outdoors experience he describes, and putting in the gear, an often unacknowledged dimension, is a fine idea. Perhaps now that he has assimilated the stylistic lessons he will move on, in a direction that is both more his own and more likely to intersect with the concerns of young readers.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1978
Publisher: Scribners