Ruby & Spear

Todd Walton, Author
Todd Walton, Author Bantam Books $19 (268p) ISBN 978-0-553-37813-9
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As in his earlier books, such as Inside Moves and Forgotten Impulses, the protagonist here is a jaded piece of work. A basketball columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Victor Worsley is disgusted with what he sees happening to his beloved game. After a particularly bellicose column on same, he is let go. On the up side of this middle-age crisis, the newspaper secretary he's loved for years, Greta Eagleheart, makes it clear that the feeling's mutual. And Ruby Carmichael, a witchy woman from Oakland, bullies and cajoles him into coming to see her foster son, Spear Rashan Benedente, the 27-year-old inner-city hoops star who will renew Victor's faith in the game and in human decency. There's no doubt that Walton's a good prose stylist, but as a story, this New Age fairy tale is unlikely to appeal to any but the converted. Everyone here has had some horrid past experience that made them unmitigated saints, usually of the Buddhist or pantheistic varieties. There's a fair amount of spiritual consultation (While throwing her chicken bones, Ruby borrows a piece of pink tourmaline that Greta found at a ""moon ceremony on the Lost Coast."" It is, says Ruby, ""a good rock,"" with a ""strong, clean energy."") The outcome of the story is never in doubt, as the northern Californian spheres all align in total harmony. (Apr.)
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