SMALL TOWN by Sloan Wilson


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Can sincerity save a badly written book from being dreadful? Sometimes, but not always. Here, Wilson's obvious earnestness only intensifies the embarrassment of his most mawkish exploration of male menopause. Divorced photographer Ben Winslow comes back to his Vermont hometown from the empty singles life in California--and finds that his alienated teenage son Ebon has been taken in by a farmhouseful of obliging women: Grammie and her granddaughters, thirtyish Rosie and Annie, 17 (whom Ebon loves madly). Soon Ben is part of this extended family, head over heels in love with Rosie (he says ""Thank you . . . for living"" and kisses her feet); they plan to start a newspaper and crusade against the town's corrupt power-brokers (including Ben's brother). But Rosie has a bad heart: the first time they have sex, she has an attack, so it's hands off after that (""celibacy with you is sexier than sex with anyone I've ever known""). And when Rosie's drunken, irresponsible Irish dad starts a ruckus at Ben and Rosie's wedding reception, Rosie keels over--a dead bride. Which leaves Ben with gorgeous sister-in-law Annie, whom he lusts for (""My God, Rosie had been gone not quite a month, and here he was already having erotic fantasies about her sister""); but, even though the town's gossipers believe the worst anyway and even when coy Annie declares ""Sir. . . your little sister-in-law loves you,"" Ben backs off. Instead, he and Annie plan a photo book on their small town. One wants to like this heart-on-sleeve novel, but the hopeless dialogue, toneless prose, and daytime-soap plotting make that a sad impossibility.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1978
Publisher: Arbor House