MAX HOLLY by Robert Sims Reid


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Max Holly, living in a rented trailer on the grounds of a ""ranchette""/truck-farm owned by a crusty old Montana farmer, feels that he has finally put some distance between himself and his nightmares. These past horrors include his Vietnam-era Air Force stint in Guam; subsequent drug-running back in the States; the suicide-by-drowning of his stoned-out girlfriend; plus the fact that Max has been pursued by his old partner-in-trade, Medico Watson. And, for a time, peace does indeed seem to reign. Max falls in love, and vice versa, with Eleanor Tiel, a Texas exmodel who moves into the trailer next door: Eleanor, no fool, tries to wrest Max's various anxious secrets from him--and when that doesn't work, she clams up about her own past to get even. So the lovers more or less fly blind with one another--a state of love through mutual protection (yet also mutual fear) which first-novelist Reid brings off in a gently-graded, affectionate, and underplayed manner. Furthermore, Max's stabs at frontier respectability--Montana jobs as picturesque fishing guide, as dreadful insurance salesman--are never ridiculed (as they would be by Jim Harrison or Thomas McGuane, other writers of this terrain); ploys, even if they're pathetic, have some dignity to them. And the sudden reappearance of Medico Watson--with gun, with murder on his mind--brings the knot of the book's action. Still, the plot here is secondary: it's brief and quickly gotten out of the way. Rather it is Reid's stylistic lope--even with its occasional too-pithy, too-sappy lapses--that makes this quiet first novel an endearing and promising one.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row