PLAYGROUND by John Buell


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John Buell (The Pyx and The Shrewsdale Exit) is one of our more decisive writers, as if he drinks his liquor neat. And while this hasn't the precipitous propulsion of Deliverance, that's the audience to keep in mind. Spence Morison, in his late 40s, takes off for a fishing holiday with three friends on a remote lake and crashes, somewhere in a lake too far north of his destination, in his Cessna. With no supplies or equipment except what he's wearing, he makes it to shore--open country, deserted country--with only a lighter, a knife and a watch (""as if time wouldn't be real without it""). And one pack of cigarettes--he rations one a day to keep track of time. At first he eats plants, orange flowers, a few berries, impales one fish with a stick, later clubs a porcupine. But hope and confidence diminish and he begins to walk south--sheer trudgery as he's bitten all over by bugs, his natural reserves are wasted, and finally almost too tired to think--let alone reflect--he lies down to die. The fortuitous rescue is perhaps a concession but otherwise the novel is all actuality--a man's man of a story where the duress is overwhelmingly real and present.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1976
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux