Third novel from Dressler (The Deadwood Beetle, 2001, etc.), a portrait of domestic angst set in a Texas beach house during a family reunion.
Dee Buelle is a crusty old bastard. A famous playwright and a wealthy man to boot, he lost his parents when he was just a boy and his first wife not long after she had borne his second child. Second wife Jean, a professional golfer who used to tour with Babe Zaharias, raised the two kids in the shadow of fame and the lap of luxury, but now they’re all grown up: Harry lives in New York and is trying to establish his own career as a playwright; Sarah, married to filmmaker Paul, is trying to produce a documentary about her father. They get together at the beach house at Jean’s request. Dee, now in his 80s, has stopped taking his heart medication, and she’s worried about him. So the kids fly in and try to act as natural as they can. Like many a family reunion, however, this one has a lot simmering beneath the surface. Narrator Harry, now in his 30s, wants to tell his father he’s gay, though he suspects Dee knows already. Sarah, having failed at a variety of professions and causes, has a chip on her shoulder about her career and wants Dee to cooperate with Paul to help boost his film; she also plans to adopt a baby from Bosnia instead of having one of her own and is spoiling to pick a fight with Dee about this as well. Poor Jean, caught in the crossfire, tries to play the peacemaker—until she discovers an appalling fact about her marriage.
Somewhat stagy in its composition, with a heavily dialogue-driven narrative, but the baroque Tennessee Williams flavor rescues the plot from its own melodramas.