THE BACKSLIDER by Max Crawford


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Crawford's second novel (Waltz Across Texas, 1975) stays put in one of those forgotten backwaters in the same state near the Oklahoma border back a piece--1946--when its local preacher Blassingame decides to retire. He's lost the faith seeing mournfulness everywhere (""We don't know how to be happy now""), a conviction reaffirmed by the suicide of a young man who's a depressive victim of the raids he took part in during the war. This isn't only their story since a number of farmers and visiting preachers--a revival--are all on hand; but somehow with Blassingame's defection, everything seems to fall apart (drinking Abe almost puts himself in the grave; Hubert, sexually humiliated since boyhood, is brutally dunked, etc.) until finally at the end Blassingame starts ""leaning forward."" This hasn't the rough-and-tumble drama of Crawford's first book but he's a natural writer with humor, with humanity, and all these scratchy consciences and singed souls touch solid, native ground with conviction.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1975
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux