This is the Place

Peter Rock, Author Anchor Books $19 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-48598-2
Time has not been kind to the aged casino card dealer who narrates this first novel by Rock, a Wallace Stegner Fellow and recipient of a 1996 Henfield Award. If his pitiful fortunes had turned for the better, the dealer would have met Catherine in his youth, or never at all. As it is, his liaison with the devout 19-year-old Mormon leads to his life's quiet unraveling against a landscape that is supposed to be mysterious and barren but instead is just vague. Nothing is as detailed as the several descriptions of Wendover Will, the huge steel-and-neon cowboy that dominates the Wendover, Nev., tourist trap where the unnamed dealer works nights. Elsewhere, a range of ambiguous conversations and hackneyed shifts in point-of-view simply draw out and confuse matters. Rock attempts to juxtapose grand mysteries-gambling alongside the beliefs of the Mormon Church. But he completely misses out on the humanity to be examined in this ill-fated romance. The rambling plot resembles the row of empty uniform shirts hanging in his narrator's trailer; it's neat and orderly but with no one inside. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/17/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
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