A Place in Mind

Sydney Lea, Author
Sydney Lea, Author Scribner Book Company $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19054-9
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
This first novel by Lea, poet and founder editor of New England Review , declares itself early on: ``My real story is of friendship and a place.'' The place is a rural spot in Maine called MacLean, also the name of the lake, its tributary river and the patronymic of the storyteller's best friend, Louis. The narrative drifts in the time between the '20s, when Brant Healey, the narrator, a young professor of French, first buys his summer cabin there, through more than 50 years' worth of vacations, to his retirement. A picaresque mix of anecdotes and vignettes build the story; fishing and hunting take up a lot of the characters' time and energy. Louis MacLean is messy, drinks, sings impromptu party songs and attracts misfortune. He lives in a shed, having chopped down the main house for firewood. ``Directness is hard to come by,'' writes Brant at one point, and his indirect approach, building up pictures of time, places and events in a seemingly scattered way, is hard to stay with. Although the book is sensitively written, with a lot of heart and warmth, these deliberately low- key tales haven't enough point to hook the reader's interest. (June)
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