THE BROKEN YEAR by Richard P. Brickner


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This is another ""coming of age"" novel and the guy who finally makes it in this one is called Eric Green. He's in the hospital at the book's opening all decked out and miserable in the therapeutic brace for a broken neck. Eric has literally broken his neck and he lies there blaming ""his society""...""his century""...""his birth"", musing on childhood, parents, the college career so rudely interrupted by a fall, love, sex and his acting career. Running throughout Eric's recollections is a Hamlet motif cleverly worked, subtle to a point. Eric has an ""antic"" childhood. He wants to strut the stage for the freedom it affords the player. He can't understand why he doesn't kill himself. He goes to the theatre with dad to see Life With Father, utterly bewildered by the old man's failure to recognize himself. Where the Hamlet motif ends, however, so does the peculiar twist (no pun intended) which makes this novel different from all others of the genre. We are led to believe that Eric can finally ""walk by himself"", listen for something else than his own heartbeat, see his parents as people with their own unique problems. But a great deal of Eric is left unexplained. As the book ends he has not yet related himself to the freakish misery he is forced to live with at the institute to which he goes for treatment. What is resolved is resolved too patly; what is unresolved is far too significant to be left unresolved. Brickner remains highly promising but hardly satisfying.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday