CUTTING THROUGH by Keith Maillard


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The further times and tales of John Dupre--the mixed-up West Virginia 1950s teenager (The Knife in My Hands, 1982) who came of age, went to college, got hooked on the Cabala, and recognized the everlasting influence of certain key friends. Now it's 1963, Kennedy has been shot, Johnson is installed--and Dupre, a drop-out perilously evading an eager draft board, hikes about the South in search of his kin, one of whom may actually have ridden with Morgan's Raiders, the Confederacy's most dashing troops. (The role of this roots-quest in Dupre's life--like the role of Cabala mysticism in the earlier volume--isn't made especially clear.) Meanwhile, rather murky emphasis is placed on Dupre's painful sexual life (or lack of it), its hint of underlying androgyny. Then, after he makes for Canada (an episode that's mentioned but not shown), we pick him up again in Boston, working sub-rosa (under assorted pen names) as a writer for a Cambridge counter-culture newspaper. And Dupre is last seen encountering an old West Virginia friend, Cassandra Markopolous, who's involved with drugs (taking and selling): she'll introduce him to his next, highly dangerous, and morally dubious stage of experience. Unfortunately, Maillard doesn't have the skills needed to shape this material (the sort of technique that someone like John Sayles has); the novel often becomes annoying as it stumbles here and then there. But, for all that, Maillard's narration remains surprisingly entertaining--and there's something oddly appealing about the extremely messy, continuing saga of wandering John Dupre.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1983
Publisher: Beaufort