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Coomer, author of the talented and evocative The Decatur Road (1983), only partially uses that country setting once more here, as a young man, Hart, goes over in memory his one great (and lost) college love. An undergrad at the University of Kentucky, Hart (and friends Mote and Ford--all three transplants to Lexington from Texas) is full-up with frat-house hijinks and the intermittent fun of hazing a born-again-Christian roommate and the nice change of pace that comes with weekend trips down to Hart's grandfather's country farm not far away. But all this pales when Hart finally meets Mary--who works at the local Pancake & Egg as a waitress; who is a piano student; who has bad ankles (she wears, unself-consciously, high-topped sneakers everywhere and always); and to whom Hart loses his heart all in a rush. Their liaison is idyllic, but Mary ultimately will break it off in order to return home (Colorado) for more serious musical training. Hart, bewildered (he can't believe she hasn't loved him as much as he her) and heartbroken, graduates and assumes management of his (now dead) grandfather's farm, where he commences to write the ""exorcism"" of the affair that is this book. Coomer's style is relaxed and supple; the material, though, comes off as both dated and overly and dramatically effusive (""Heaven and Earth, must I remember? Step forward, Tin Man. The clock tells its single thronging note. I keep the briars out of the graveyard and throw the windblown limbs over the hill""). The ancient--est tale--love lost--treated without much originality or angle.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's