SORROW FLOATS by Tim Sandlin


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Another yahoo yarn from Sandlin (Skipped Parts, 1991; Western Swing, 1988), who steps out in narrative drag this time as Maury Talbot, a dipso Wyoming cowgirl who hits the road, dries out, and grows up en route to North Carolina. Like all good drifters, Maury heads away on a pretext because she hasn't any choice: The eight-month hinge that started at her Daddy's funeral has left her living in a tent behind what used to be her home, while a local bimbo nurses her baby inside and waits for the Talbot divorce to come through. Under the circumstances, then, an opportunity to drive a hundred cases of Coors cross-country in a derelict ambulance with an obese cripple and his unlicensed friend appears as an attractive alternative to suicide--which has already been tried without much success. Maury's road companions, as it happens, are both reformed alcoholics who plot out their itinerary along an uneven line that touches every A.A. meeting on the way. Poor Maury. She knows that sooner or later she'll have to relent, but she's too tough to give in without a fight, and it takes a string of catastrophes reminiscent of the Pharaonic plagues to beat her eyes open. Robbery, rape, and mutilation conspire to show her what life is like down below, and her friends in the backseat help her make the causal connections and work out an alternative. Once that has happened, her story suddenly seems a lot less intriguing, but fortunately (for us) it doesn't happen until the very end. Readable and obvious: Sandlin doesn't have much of a tale here, but plays it with panache. Good for your next long flight.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt