Another shaggy-dog tale from Pearson (Polar, 2002, etc.), past master of the Southern Gothic.
It would be unfair to call Pearson’s tale a yarn—it’s more a Big Ball of String, unraveling without end but never seeming to diminish. Naturally, it’s set in a small town in Virginia, where we follow our hero, middle-aged accountant Paul Tatum, as he makes his daily rounds among the great and the good of his little hometown. Paul still makes house calls, so he has privileged insights into the lives of his clients and picks up plenty of gossip about everybody else. Guns and sex provide most of the entertainment for spectators, and it’s the rare home that doesn’t have some such domestic turmoil on view: Even Paul’s misanthropic neighbor Stoney (a recluse and autodidact who repairs things for a living between PBS shows) turns out to have broken the heart of some other man’s wife, as Paul learned in a dry goods store from two elderly ladies who noticed him staring at the wife in question. Paul has had a girlfriend of sorts for some time now—a divorced mother named Mona, who belongs to a storefront Episcopal church and practices Tantra on the side—but he is strongly taken by the wife in the dry goods store, whose name turns out to be Maud. Unhappily married to a thuggish brute, Maud inspires pity as well as love in Paul, who sets out to rescue her. Toward this end, he enlists the help of Stoney, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Carpaccio’s painting of St. George, which Paul saw in Venice when he was there on vacation with Mona, who’d spent her honeymoon there years ago, before her daughter Dinky was born. Stoney agrees to help, but there are a few complications (and more than a few digressions) involved.
The ramblings overtake the journey in short order, but fortunately Pearson knows how to string a tale—just not when to quit.