The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly

Greg Hrbek, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (356p) ISBN 978-0-380-97741-3
With sensuous prose and vital characters, this first novel by James Jones Award--winner Hrbek fearlessly explores the wracking entanglements of two lovers in flux. Tom Markham meets Lindsey Paris in Connecticut in 1974, when he is seven and she 15. The deep bond they form includes their shared loss of innocence and the secrets of a criminal act: Tom's mother dies giving birth to his brother, and Lindsey is raped by Tom's cousin. Years later, when they meet again in California, Lindsey is a famous journalist about to marry nature photographer Phil Davenport, whose renown equals hers. A promising tele-animator, Tom has always loved Lindsey, and his passion for her forces him to examine the darker secrets of their shared youth as they embark on a painful affair. Unaware of his wife's past, Phil unwittingly encourages the lovers' ""friendship,"" and, in an attempt to improve Tom's love life, introduces him to Nile Treadway, a glamourous, black ex-lover of Lindsey's. Bisexual Nile embroils herself in their lives, and it seems that both Tom and Lindsey are fated to bring pain to each other. The levels of betrayal and emotional torture escalate for everyone. Hrbek's meditation on love and suffering twists along exquisitely: Phil exempts himself from feeling jealous, considering Tom a ""brother"" to Lindsey and Nile a ""tepid"" experiment; Lindsey is frazzled and distraught, ricocheting back and forth between Nile and Tom. Exclusive focus on the turbulent quadrangle is fractured when Tom's 16-year-old brother, a runaway, arrives with his own formidable chaos. Though the writing sometimes leans toward the precious, particularly in moments of Tom's introspection, Hrbek builds scenes with a tight economy of timing and detail, so that a tension resonates well beyond their conclusion. In the end the characters find equilibrium, and mellow into a hard-earned serenity Hrbek's portrait of the heart is magnetic, difficult, strange and--despite a disquieting ending--well worth the read. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
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Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-380-80543-3
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