TURPIN by Stephen Jones


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Certainly that man were greedy of Life who should desire to live when all the world were at an end."" [Sic.] Jones' flyleaf quotation is a far more serious statement of his point of view than the actual content of his mercurial, oblique novel, in which an element of hystoria appears to play a large part. Turpin is a veterinarian and lobster fisherman who has lived in the same Rhode Island town for thirty years. A favorite phrase of his is, ""We'd have a piano but it's too hard to keep in tune by the sea."" Turpin has apparently been keeping in tune up until the death of his young wife and until he discovers, in his basement, a dog kicked to death. He takes off with the owner of the dog and a couple on a drunken yacht trip to a town on northeastern Long Island where they encounter a few more strange types who seem to be, similarly, ""looking at life sideways."" Turpin is directly involved in two more deaths and when he makes his escape homeward he arrives in time for the funeral of a neighbor. All of this is related in a kind of pithy, offhand way (there are a lot of one-liners), which seems appropriate for the emotional level of the story but which doesn't prove too durable.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1968
Publisher: Macmillan