COLD FEET by Patricia Weaver Francisco


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A Vietnam draft-dodger comes home in this limp first novel. Yoder left Ann Arbor, Michigan, for Canada in the summer of 1970, six months after his number came up. Though opposed to the war, he was no peace activist, preferring the solitary enjoyment of Dylan's music to a raucous demo. The move was convenient: in Canada, he ""didn't have to pretend to belong."" Belonging has been a constant problem for Yoder; as a child in suburban New Jersey, he would fantasize he was an alien from another planet. A teen-age suicide attempt was foiled by his parents. He had a succession of female friends, but still blocks on the word ""girlfriend."" This must have riled Sally, the most important woman in his life; she claimed his move was an excuse to walk out on her (an issue that goes unresolved). Now it's 1977, and Yoder, taking advantage of Carter's amnesty, is back, intending to reclaim Sally--but he's too late: she's in love with (and pregnant by) another man. So Yoder drifts around the country, first to Maine to help best friend Josh build a house in the wilderness, next to Jersey for a tepid reunion with his parents, then (after stealing $500 from his brother) back to Michigan to participate in a coke-smuggling deal; and finally, when that proves a bust, to Seattle, in the company of a woman called Lee whom he's picked up on the train. She persuades him to daily awhile on her houseboat. A depressing work that fails to illuminate its period, in part because Yoder himself is just a chronically sad sack, and in part because the author is shaky in her factual grasp--showing no familiarity with the way the amnesty program worked, for example, and in a key scene having Yoder gamble in a then-nonexistent Atlantic City casino.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster