From Publishers Weekly
The brutally hard life of sheep ranchers on the Great Plains just after WWII provides the heartbeat of Lennon's brooding third novel. As in his 1997 debut, The Light of Shooting Stars, Lennon laconically records the punishing hardships of the Western landscape, counterbalanced by the open skies that, one characters says, have "ruined us for any other kind of life." From the start, doom and ruin hang over the Person family. Three of the six sons of John and Asta Person are fated to die young. A fourth, Thornton, is killed in WWII, and Grant, the brother whose place Thornton took in the draft, bolts from the ranch and labors on a fishing trawler for three years. Meanwhile, his brother Max assumes his responsibilities and his mother dies; when Grant finally returns, he discovers that his father has taken off for parts unknown. A bitter and resentful Max then leaves, too, for New York, to paint. Grant copes with a mountain of debts, a sickly flock and elderly ranch hands. Lonely, taciturn and racked by guilt, Grant exists in a dour, gray world defined by monotonous labor and hard-bitten men. When Max returns with a young woman, Sophia, love suddenly erupts in Grant, presaging sibling rivalry and a dramatic denouement. While Grant's intensely inward personality and his existence on life's "chill periphery," may initially alienate the reader, Lennon artfully heightens the emotional temperature with Grant's recurrent, prefiguring dream of a dead man he saw in Atlantic City. Fiercely realistic descriptions suffuse Lennon's prose: "gulls dangled overhead, tufted and greasy like dead wool"; "the cod's caustic eye twitching against the caustic air." The result is a terse and haunting story that speaks of the inescapable bonds of blood, the ineluctable hold of the land and the healing powers of work and solitude.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
It's clear from the first page of his quietly stunning third novel that Lennon doesn't intend to write the same book twice. This is a major departure from both the well-received The Light of Falling Stars, about the after-effects of a plane crash, and The Funnies, a wry look at a dysfunctional family. After World War II ends, Grant Person leaves his family's ranch on the Great Plains and heads for the East Coast. Behind him is the wreckage of a once-thriving family. Out of six brothers, only Grant and Max, his much younger brother, are left. Their mother's death three years later propels Grant home, and he finds the ranch fallen on hard times: his father is gone, and Max is on his way out the door to pursue his art. When Max returns the following year, he brings his girlfriend, whose presence sets up a disastrous conflict between the two men. Brotherly love gone bad, solitude turning to a rancid loneliness, the workings of fate, and a guilty conscience: this is the stuff of Greek tragedy, and Lennon does a masterly job of showing us a man who realizes that he is destined to "live a few scant miles from the heart of life, on its chill periphery." Highly recommended. Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.