GHOST IMAGES by Stephen Minot

GHOST IMAGES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nearing age 50, ""radical"" historian Kraft Means has one big and respected book under his belt, but the next one's in his craw and won't budge. He's been wood-shedding it, therefore, alone on his ramshackle Nova Scotia property, away from wife and kids, for a few months. Not much manuscript has piled up, however. Kraft's energy has instead gone into an affair with a local woman, Thea. And into an obsession with his dead father's journals--his father was close to a robber baron, standing for everything Kraft rejects, but in the ""ghost images"" of the old man's diaries, Kraft finds psychically significant data. (Or so novelist Minor intends; the why and wherefore are never made clear.) When wife Tammy, a lawyer herself, and the three kids do finally come up to join him, Kraft can't cope. Visitors--Kraft's editor and Tammy's sister--compound the difficulty. Booze becomes Kraft's safe haven, a haven shattered at the end of the book in a rage of nervous breakdown, violence, and erratic emotions. Minot ignores certain plot opportunities--like Tammy's relationship with Thea, who's hired to clean up the months' worth of mess that Kraft has accumulated--and concentrates instead on developing a gnawing, tortured Kraft-consciousness, with Kraft's psychic wounds oozing a little too readily. This relentlessness generates an undeniable power--the man, his muddle, and the love of the Nova Scotia landscape are all vividly etched--but it also makes Minot's second novel one of those books that has delivered almost all it has to offer when it's only half over.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row