THE JEALOUS EAR by Robert Early


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Judging from the vast majority of novels about the American South, you would think nothing ever happens below the Mason-Dixon line except prepubescent sex, insanity, incest, miscegenation and adolescent homosexuality -- all these various psycho-sexual quirks heightened by a guilt-ridden religious fundamentalism. At the center of the various labyrinthine relationships is Egan Fletcher, Jr., whose absent baseball star papa is the actual and symbolic opposite to his grandmother's hoary respectability which au fond is nothing more than masked frigidity. When his sex-obsessed daddy and whoring granddaddy die, nothing is left but a pagan communicaton with the dead and a kind of voyeuristic investigation into the secrets of his neurotic family, better left unspoken and perhaps unwritten -- plus, of course, the rites of manhood, for southern youths grow up early and never stop. This first novel is interesting for the obsessive energy its author (a former Benedictine monk) brings to its time-worn but apparently not quite worn-out themes: an overripe, somewhat misdirected effort.

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 1973
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin