STRAIGHT MAN by Sallie Bingham


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 A lonely Kentucky college professor and a peripatetic young actress bring out the worst in each other in this lackluster romance by Bingham, author of the much better Matron of Honor (1993) and Small Victories (1992). Colby Winn had hoped to leave behind his Kentucky-mountain roots when he graduated from Harvard, married the daughter of one of the university's department heads, and landed a respectable teaching position of his own. Within the decade, however, a divorce and subsequent expulsion from East Coast academia sent Colby back to Louisville and all the old conflicts he'd hoped to leave behind. Some of these long-suppressed passions emerge one day when, driving from his soulless home to his dreary state university classroom, Colby picks up a pretty young hitchhiker named Ann Lee. A Kentucky miner's daughter working her way across the country, Ann announces her plans to take an acting job in Louisville's theater company. Colby, instantly smitten, pursues her there and soon finds that the actress is easy to capture but hard to keep. As Colby and Ann exchange stories of his cold and abusive father and her dependent mother, Colby finds himself longing to establish a permanent alliance with this girl and at the same time, inexplicably, to drive her away. Shocking himself as well as everyone else when he picks fights with men who show an interest in Ann and even abusing the girl herself, Colby suggests a weekend driving trip to figure out what's causing such angst. In a lodge near Kentucky's Natural Bridge, talk of marriage soon disintegrates into violence, and before morning Ann, not surprisingly, is gone. Colby's bland personality and Ann's frustrating elusiveness do nothing to inspire sympathy or interest. Bingham's more characteristic satirical tone would have been welcome in this love story of an uninteresting pair.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-944072-65-8
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996


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