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by Tom Hazuka

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-882593-23-5
Publisher: Bridge Works

You can—t go home again, it seems, and newcomer Hazuka does a fair job of showing why not, provided that a certain number of clinkers, stretchers, and forcing of parts are willingly overlooked. When Jimmy Dolan’s father dies, hit by a car while jogging in the wee small hours, Jimmy comes home to Newfield, Connecticut, after an absence of four years and change. Fifteen years have passed since his 1971 high school graduation, but that’s still not long enough for some people (like his older brother Gary, for example?) to have stopped thinking of him as —Mr. Hot Shit Valedictorian,— and it’s not long enough, either, for Jimmy to have laid to rest whatever the terrible, awful memory was that made it impossible for him to stay in Newfield even though he had a job there and a wonderful new wife and a son, all left behind when he took off for keeps. The —mystery— is a disappointment when it’s finally revealed—as to credibility and as to being a motive for flight—but Hazuka seems willing to overlook its porousness so long as it fits a bigger pattern in the book. Jimmy is struggling with guilt, you see, and Roger, his best friend from childhood on, is struggling with it also, in his case associated partly with his tour of duty in Vietnam. In the few days of his visit, Jimmy gets to know his ex-wife Beth again (in more ways than one), his bottled-up but passionate mother, the tough but secretly insecure Gary, and his own seven-year-old son—through whom he remembers much of his own vanished past. The big news, though, isn—t only that best friend Roger and ex-wife Beth have become an item—but that there’s something more to the death of Jimmy’s father than seen or known at first. Soapiness aside, an often involving look back at a family, a town, and the lives in it.