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This is Page Stegner's second novel -- better than The Edge (1968) -- and dealing once again with the dynamics of self-destruct in a strafing fashion which spans the generations and connects all the way. Crowe is one of those lapsed lost souls -- 28 -- not really free but wheeling his way from Monterey to the east where he had once touched briefly on Marquand terrain. He doesn't manage to get a job but is offered a summer in Vermont where he falls in love with Sandy -- Sandy who has only the notion of escaping from what Crowe wants (her well-connected, well-heeled family). They separate; she comes back to him in New York where he works for his friend Paps; stops; begins to write again; stops. As Crowe becomes more and more rancorous and withdrawn, Sandy leaves him to go to California with Paps where they set up a minicommune and where Sandy will have Crowe's child (he didn't know about that) and where he follows her. At the end, and it's quite an end, he realizes only too well that he's the same ""old castle maker, unfit for active duty,"" the harrier or cross-country runner with all those hawks overhead. . . . Stegner writes well with a sharp eye for detail (people and particularly places) as well as the considerable feeling he elicits for both Crowe and Sandy. Thus his novel succeeds as a cogently immediate and saddening reconnaissance.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1971
Publisher: Dial