THE AGE OF WONDER by Michael Grieg


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From Grieg (A Fire in His Hand, 1962), a sentimentalized but affecting tale of a retiree who triumphs over age, illness, and thwarted love. Having been told he has a leaky heart and a bad prostate, reporter Nat Dorn retires from the San Francisco Standard after 30 years of tough cityside service. He should have it made: he's comfortably well off, has two houses in the city's Potrero Hill section, and is deeply in love with Gloria Dell, a vivacious 68-year-old woman he's been courting for five years, since the death of his beloved wife, Rachel. Of course, Nat's problems begin immediately: his son, Start, an on-and-off-again dope addict, is back on (and stealing) with a vengeance; his lesbian daughter, Ruthie, is raped and robbed when she moves into Nat's spare house; but, most of all, Gloria decides she needs a little ""vacation"" from Nat and adamantly refuses to see him--which results in his breaking into her house, following her, and finally getting thrown in jail when he punches out an old friend who escorts her to a concert. But the two are finally brought together when Nat undergoes a successful prostate operation (""I thought your ticker would go first,"" says his doctor. ""Instead it's your pecker""), and all would appear to be well at the end. The somewhat pat ending is a trifle cloying (as is Nat's thickly spread self-pity and self-absorption). But, nonetheless, a funny, even charming, novel about a man who never says never.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Donald Fine