Lonesome Standard Time

Dana Andrew Jennings, Author
Dana Andrew Jennings, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19 (0p) ISBN 978-0-15-100188-0
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Hardcover - 164 pages - 978-0-15-200778-2
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Though apparently intended as an elegiac ode to a rural Northeast town ravaged by the by-products of a toxic waste dump, Jennings's latest novel (after Women of Granite) is coarsened by cliches of plot and character. The story opens with the murder of a journalist intent on exposing the corruption of Sanborn Hunt, owner of the waste management company that has devastated the tiny hamlet of Hunt's Station. But the focus quickly shifts to Hank Rodgers, who, after 15 years, returns to the community from New York City, leaving behind a dying marriage and a failed career as a novelist. Rodgers finds himself dragged into a romantic triangle with Maggie Parriss, a young woman desperate to leave town, and Clare Hunt, an old flame who happens to be Sanborn's daughter. Between trysts, he drifts back into the old rural rituals, the most prominent being a weekly songfest led by the stoic factory foreman, who is later killed under mysterious circumstances. Rodgers learns, too, that the journalist was found dead on the grounds of the dump. The most prominent suspect in both deaths is Sanborn's seedy waste hauler, who also manufactures the town's infamous home brew. Jennings, a native of rural New Hampshire, displays a succinct knowledge of small-town ways. His sensibility here tends toward the mawkish (``You [Hank] left your heart here, you left your soul. And you finally come back to reclaim them.''). The disjointed, episodic plot leads to a flat and anticlimactic ending that offers a tepid resolution to the romantic triangle. Author tour. (Mar.)
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