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 The famous headline declaring Truman defeated by Dewey inspires Mallon's (Henry and Clara, 1994, etc.) old-fashioned look into the lives of a handful of the residents of Thomas E. Dewey's hometown of Owosso (pop. 16,000), Michigan. The year 1948, when Dewey did come close, was both a backward- and a forward-looking time. The widow Jane Herrick is so obsessed by the death of her son Arnie in WW II that she drives her younger son Tim to drink--and worse; and old widower Frank Sherwood not only remembers being a Rough Rider but has his own 50-year-old secret to protect. At the same time, for others, the future is all the rage. Anne Macmurray, college graduate and attractive (add: spunky and smart) young woman, works in the local bookstore (The Naked and the Dead is a new release) while pushing slowly forward with her own novel. Love creates the future, and Anne is courted both by the rich and handsome Peter Cox--running for state senate on the Dewey coattails--and by the earthy, up-from-poverty Jack Riley, who nurses his dying father while also working in Flint for the UAW. As the pre-election summer passes, town boosters--most notably local merchant Al Jackson--plan feverishly how to capitalize on Dewey's coming presidency. After the bunting, ceremonies, and parades, a permanent theme park--``Dewey Walk''- -will be built along the river, to draw tourism forever. All, of course, will taste of ashes in the chill dawn after election eve- -though not before a number of minor mysteries are cleared up, or before Anne Macmurray, in a flurry of purest melodrama, votes on her own true love. Nothing new for readers of Babbitt, but fine as a reminder of the period--cars, candidates, and radio shows all done with perfect pitch (`` `Yeah, Peter interrupted. `Ronald Reagan's wife. He's the union man out in Hollywood, isn't he, Jack?' '')

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44425-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1996


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