APOLOGIZING TO DOGS by Joe Coomer

APOLOGIZING TO DOGS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Thirty years” worth of secrets, most having to do with sex and love, are exposed in the course of one frantic day in this deftly plotted mix of comedy and romance. The amorous revelations at the heart here have to do with the denizens of Worth Row, a frayed street of antique shops in Fort Worth. The defacto leader of the community is middle-aged Nadine, who sells vintage clothes and labors under the shadow of her formidable mother, now dead, the community’s driving force for decades. Carl, a cabinet maker, pines for the distracted Nadine. He’s been secretly dismantling his house, from the inside out, using the beautifully aged cedar of its floors and walls to build a sailboat on which to carry Nadine away. The keeper of the street’s many secrets is Howard, a dealer in scavenged architectural oddments. Ancient, duplicitous Howard, fearing death, begins to pour out to good-natured Mose a litany of his sins, many having to do with the street. He has, for instance, been blackmailing the frosty Mr. Haygood, who peddles antique toys, and Mazelle, who sells used books, to keep their three-decade affair a secret (they meet in a secret chamber under their adjoining houses). More painfully for Mose, a vintage-radio and TV salesman, he claims to have had an affair with Nadine’s mother, for whom Mose nursed an unrequited love. Other residents drawn into the revelations include Mazelle’s long-suffering husband, Mr Haygood’s abused wife, a devoted gay couple, and Effie, who has some nasty secrets of her own. Howard’s revelations become general knowledge when a storm drives them all together in Haygood’s hidden chamber. The neighbors are all, in varying ways, forced to come to grips with their secrets and desires. Coomer (Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God, 1995, etc.) manages it all with a surprisingly light, often witty, touch, making even the hectic climax, in which rewards and punishments are meted out, seem more droll than dolorous. A sharply observant and engaging entertainment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85946-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999




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