BLUE CRYSTAL

Kentucky legend—in Williams's seventh novel (Final Heat, etc.)- -has it that lodged deep inside the Blue Crystal Cave is the fabulous jewel that gave the cave its name. When a gang of misfits—foolishly convinced that Sam Preston, the cave's owner, is an easy score—ride into his life just ahead of a historic rainstorm, Sam is forced to confront demons of every stripe. Even before the double disaster, Sam is still racked with guilt over a much earlier disaster: the collapse of the cave years ago, an event that killed 17 visiting children and sent Sam's father tailing into suicide. Now, just as he's reaching out cautiously to bookstore- owner Mary Beth Price, murderous simpleton Bobby Drake, who's already done time for murder, arrives on the scene with his ill-assorted auxiliaries: his boyhood friend Hermie Baggett, his prison friend Clay Garc°a, his current girlfriend Misty Ward, and Misty's best friend Christiann Mizelle. At once driven and fractured by Bobby's hair- trigger temper, this ludicrous bunch terrorizes Mary, who succeeds briefly in running off, and Sam, who retreats into the cave, where most of the second half of the novel, a monumentally extended tour de force, takes place. As Bobby spins out of control and begins to turn on his buddies and himself, Williams skillfully maintains the hysteria by showing Bobby accepting his own death but deciding that no witnesses must survive to ridicule him. The inevitable sequel: bats, flashlights, panic in the dark, thousands of gallons of water, and Sam's climactic resolve to assuage his demons by rescuing a final survivor. A subterranean take on Conrad's Victory, best (like its model) on the finely nuanced reactions of its isolated principals to physical and spiritual peril, weakest on the melodramatic denouement that lays the demons to rest.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8021-1499-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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LONESOME DOVE

A NOVEL (SIMON & SCHUSTER CLASSICS)

This large, stately, and intensely powerful new novel by the author of Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show is constructed around a cattle drive—an epic journey from dry, hard-drinking south Texas, where a band of retired Texas Rangers has been living idly, to the last outpost and the last days of the old, unsettled West in rough Montana. The time is the 1880s. The characters are larger than life and shimmer: Captain Woodrow Call, who leads the drive, is the American type of an unrelentingly righteous man whose values are puritanical and pioneering and whose orders, which his men inevitably follow, lead, toward the end, to their deaths; talkative Gus McCrae, Call's best friend, learned, lenient, almost magically skilled in a crisis, who is one of those who dies; Newt, the unacknowledged 17-year-old son of Captain Call's one period of self-indulgence and the inheritor of what will become a new and kinder West; and whores, drivers, misplaced sheriffs and scattered settlers, all of whom are drawn sharply, engagingly, movingly. As the rag-tag band drives the cattle 3,000 miles northward, only Call fails to learn that his quest to conquer more new territories in the West is futile—it's a quest that perishes as men are killed by natural menaces that soon will be tamed and by half-starved renegades who soon will die at the hands of those less heroic than themselves. McMurtry shows that it is a quest misplaced in history, in a landscape that is bare of buffalo but still mythic; and it is only one of McMurtry's major accomplishments that he does it without forfeiting a grain of the characters' sympathetic power or of the book's considerable suspense. This is a masterly novel. It will appeal to all lovers of fiction of the first order.

Pub Date: June 1, 1985

ISBN: 068487122X

Page Count: 872

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1985

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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