BLACK COW SUMMER by Richard Graber


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Graber's third novel about Ray Decker growing up in 1930's Minnesota hasn't the intense, oppressive domestic atmosphere of A Little Breathing Room and Pay Your Respects. Instead, it draws Ray into another family, that of old farmer Brandt, his three sons, his new wife, and her daughter Mary Ellen--whom Ray's mother considers beneath him but whom Ray gazes on with awed appreciation until that last night when she makes the advances and sends him home spinning. Mary Ellen's behavior throughout is a mixture of sweet come-on (unrecognized by Ray) and troubled outburst--typically female, from the ""women are irrational"" viewpoint. More interesting is Ray's changing relationship with Claude, the oldest and leader of the three beer-drinking Brandt toughs. In the opening scene the three threaten Ray and rough him up for hanging around Mary Ellen. But by the time old Mr. Brandt dies of pneumonia, Ray has become a peripheral member of the family and wild Claude has won our sympathy and respect. In fact it is the sympathy and respect Graber evokes for all the characters, from the dauntless marginal farmer to the kindly local doctor, that gives the novel its very attractive spirit--and adds another dimension to the Rock River, Minnesota, that we are coming to know from the inside.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row