TENNESSEE BLUE by Patricia Browning Griffith

TENNESSEE BLUE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Griffith (The Future Is Not What It Used To Be) has written quite a touching novel here. George Perry is middle-aged, divorced, an ex-bureaucrat in Washington fresh out of a job and drifting badly. His grown daughter is dead of a drug-overdose; his ex-wife has fashioned a career for herself as a features reporter on local TV; he lives with a younger woman named Elizabeth but has no certainty as to how long she'll put up with his desuetude. Then, in a downtown D.C. bar, George is approached one day by a rockabilly-hippie calling himself Tennessee Blue--who claims to have known George's dead daughter, Claudie. But, bottoming out, George has no patience for the long-hair; he antagonizes Tennessee to the point of driving him away. And away with him goes the story of how Claudie got involved with a musician in California; how the musician was paralyzed in a shooting accident while Claudie was pregnant; how death then seemed to rush at all these laid-back folks, leaving finally only Tennessee and the baby. But before George can find out about all of this--he's one of those people who has to make things complicated before they can be seen as simple--he has to take a trip down to Texas, trailing Tennessee (who's wound up back in jail). True, the two main elements here--George's angst, Tennessee's hard-luck envelope of a life around a heart of gold--do not quite ever ally: the blend is unstable, often separating out. But Griffith has some of Flannery O'Connor's hard charity, some of Wright Morris' lucid yet complex no-nonsense, and a feel all her own for how only the truly kicked-about can take on that extra pound which is someone else's sorrow. Fine fiction, then--even if it's more like two stories standing side by side than one fully worked-out novel.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown