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A Novel

by Randi Triant

Pub Date: April 12th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64742-405-3
Publisher: She Writes Press

A woman and her son live with bad judgment, bad company, and bad breaks in Triant’s latest novel.

Fay is a water tank escape artist with a sketchy touring show called “Amazing Humans.” She and her teenage son, Dickie, aka Pete Smith, and her loser boyfriend, Johnson, are scraping by in Key West. A letter from her friend Ginny says that the Amazing Humans act has a gig at a rehab place in Vietnam, where there is big money to be made. Off Fay goes, and of course there is no big money to be made, and Vietnam is a dangerous hellhole. She is desperate to get back home, where she has left her son in the dubious care of Johnson. Chuck, her obsessive lover and the owner of Amazing Humans, will not let her break her yearlong contract. But break it she does when a white phosphorous, or “Willie Pete,” device explodes and she winds up back in the States, alive but hideously disfigured and desperate to find Dickie. Meanwhile Dickie flees Key West, winds up in New York City, and eventually makes a sort-of life for himself in Provincetown on Cape Cod with his friend Spin, who has AIDS. Having known only trailers in his youth, Dickie longs for a home that’s not on wheels. Fay, in her transactional world, always comes out on the short end of transactions. In this novel from the author of The Treehouse(2018), the symbolism comes through loud and clear: Fay is an escape artist who can’t escape her circumstances, and Dickie was left with a disability from early polio after his mother rejected the vaccine. Those who expect a feel-good novel to come from all this will be disappointed. But they will be captured by very good writing and wonderful portraits of Fay and Dickie, who eventually achieves one of his dreams—and who, in the last line of the book, reveals something that suggests that he may finally be escaping from his mother’s water tank.

A very fine novel about a mother’s love and a son’s survival.