Home for the Day

Anderson Ferrell, Author, Gordon Lish, Editor
Anderson Ferrell, Author, Gordon Lish, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $20 (147p) ISBN 978-0-394-58094-4
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Intertwined feelings of nostalgia and alienation pervade this languid meditation on a gay man's lonely childhood and his grief at the recent death, from AIDS, of his lover. In a remote family cemetery outside his rural hometown of Branch Creek, N.C., from beside the unmarked grave where, a year earlier, he buried his lover's cremains, an unnamed first-person narrator reflects on his life's ironies and on the chain of events that have just caused his father to drive him away with a shotgun. Flashbacks to his childhood and problematic home life, the discovery of his sexuality, his ultimate love affair and the horror of Pete's death set off his current dilemma: what to do now that his father knows of Pete's secret burial in the family plot. Ferrell's (Where She Was) spare, pastoral narrative successfully evokes the rural South but waxes maudlin in its treatment of Pete. Although there are several odd and compelling images among the recollections, the author often overplays his symbols, sacrificing credibility for the sake of color or some structural irony. No one in the novel is remotely likable, either; despite an engaging prose style that intimates that there are fascinating stories all around, Ferrell manages to avoid all but a few. (Sept.)
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