Our Happiness

Tom Jenks, Author
Tom Jenks, Author Bantam Books $19.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-553-07016-3
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
On a Southern farm, Carl Freeman fires a shot to scare off a dog and accidentally kills a man. Ten years later and living in Manhattan, he still is unable to forgive himself for a crime he never admits to anyone, and the dirty secret eats away at his marriage and health. First novelist Jenks, the literary editor of GQ , expertly devises parent-child relationships through cameos of Carl's troubled, ambiguous ties to his mother and son. He also demonstrates a descriptive knack: an elderly, black rural woman who ``would fall into the bushes with any old boy who'd give her a drink or small change''; marital mementos that Carl keeps, such as a piece of lace and ribbon from the bodice of a nightgown his wife, Kath, wore when they were first together. Although the rustic experience springs alive here, some bad backwoods folks are stereotypes and Carl's leap from drunken bricklayer to celebrated yuppie real-estate developer is less than credible. The murder is an overly portentous plot pivot, and familiar contrivances are Kath's drug flashbacks and Carl's belief that ``Kath and I mirrored each other's darkness. Hurting, we drew hurt to us and were bounded by it.'' (May)
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