Gospel Hour

T. R. Pearson, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-09480-5
Even Pearson's humming, pitch-perfect prose can't lift this sluggish, overburdened plot off the ground in its Southern, deep-rural setting. Caught in the cab of his skidder, Donnie Huff drowns when the walnut tree he's dragging downhill slips into the river and drags man and machine after it. His boss, irate at the loss of machine and tree, beats the recovered corpse in his rage and thus revives the young man. Donnie's widowed mother-in-law, convinced he's been to heaven and returned, gets him to speak at her church; his newfound power, particularly over the ladies, and the money pressed into his hand motivate Donnie toward a new career in the revival trade. His success, however, is short-lived as the cool disbelief of his wife and his own sense of rightness persuade him that a more reliable salvation lies closer to home. Pearson tells this simple story in repetitious detail, stretching out each incident to pad the plot. A wealth of comic set-pieces, perfectly realized characterizations and Pearson's ( A Short History of a Small Place ) trademark voice notwithstanding, this Hour would have been better as a 30-minute segment. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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