THE FELL OF DARK by Judson Jerome


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On the basis of its plot alone The Fell of Dark seems promising. It's heroine is a 70 year old widow who manages her Kansas ranch and everything and everyone she touches with an iron hand. In a society which changes faster than it can be defined, Olive is an anachronism and she makes the most of her uniqueness. Her major failure, however, is with her son, Harry, an aging enfant terrible whom Olive has been covering up for all his 55 years. One night, Harry, drunk, forces a car off the highway and the driver, a young Negro boy, is killed. Harry is torn between his long-standing need to confess and be punished and his basic rotten character which propels him toward escape. He tries to hide in liquor and in renewed sexual encounters with his former wife and long-time mistress but he is only revealed the more to himself. In addition, Olive has interfered once more, detouring the law off Harry's trail. Stripping him of all responsibility for himself, she reduces him to such emotional bankruptcy that he finally welcomes the death which she herself is forced to deliver. A mere summary of the book's events, however, is misleading. It is so full of pompous and misplaced philosophizing and so tastelessly and turgidly written that the very credibility of the characters is undermined. Not only are the novel's people unlikable but it very soon becomes obvious that they are not even interesting.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin