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Mica Highways Hardcover – November 3, 1998
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It's hard to say what the ghost of Ernest Hemingway would think of some of the riper writing in William Elliott Hazelgrove's new psychological thriller; lines such as "Darkness cast shadows on the tangled sheet by his knees, turning his shirt on the chair to dirty linen" might give Hem's shade pause. But Hemingway would probably approve of most of the work being done in his old attic in Oak Park, Illinois, which Hazelgrove has turned into a studio to produce his praised novels Ripples and Tobacco Sticks.
Mica Highways is more conventional in its plotting and ambition than its predecessors, but equally strong on Southern atmosphere and fully imagined characters. Thirty years after his mother's mysterious death in 1968 (on the same day that Martin Luther King was killed), Charlie Tidewater makes a trip back to his boyhood home near Richmond, Virginia, leaving behind in Chicago a failed marriage and an equally unsuccessful career as a stockbroker. He stays with his only surviving relative--Granddaddy, Austin Turin, almost 90, a man who knows everything about cars and quite a lot about how people behave under pressure. Charlie is a dry stick, a standard seeker of truth, but Granddaddy has enough meat and juice and memories in him to keep the story moving to its surprisingly suspenseful conclusion. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Admirers of Hazelgrove's highly regarded earlier fiction (Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) may be dismayed by his overripe prose in this dark tale of Southern racial hatred and murder spanning three generations of an aristocratic Virginia family. Haunted by the troubling enigma of his mother's death on the day of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, Virginia-born Chicago stockbroker Charlie Tidewater leaves his job and marriage and the "mica highways" of the North to visit his granddaddy in Richmond. As the conundrum begins to unravel, Charlie is stalked by shadowy figures who try to intimidate him into going back North. He meets and becomes enamored of a young divorced mother whose father, a respected judge, seems to have some sinister connection with Charlie's past. Told in the third person, the narrative cuts between the present and events concerning Charlie's family as far back as 1927. Unfortunately, Hazelgrove indulges in overwrought and pretentious prose: "Charlie turned to the windows in their lightless dimension, seeing something he couldn't place, but felt in the void he was seeing." Despite the mildly intriguing plot, even the most forgiving readers may be put off by the author's self-conscious straining to find literary Nirvana.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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