Harbor Lights

Theodore Weesner, Author
Theodore Weesner, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-87113-766-1
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8021-3764-7
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Though sensitively and intelligently composed, Weesner's story of a terminally ill Maine lobsterman who seeks to rectify a life gone wrong is finally stifled by its gloomy premise. Warren Hudon has been diagnosed with a particularly deadly form of cancer and has only a short time to live. He has accumulated very little in his 57 years, but he must quickly dispense with his meager belongings and decide how best to take leave of his family. His marriage is a sham: although he and his wife, Beatrice, live under the same roof, she has openly been carrying on an affair with Senator Virgil Pound for years, and she and Warren barely speak. Warren's daughter Marian works in the department store her mother runs, and she has taken her mother's side in the family split. It is only as the novel nears its end that she begins to reconsider Warren's position--but by then it is too late. Deep down, Warren still hopes for reconciliation with Beatrice, but when he realizes their marriage never had a chance, he chooses to settle his accounts on earth with a stupidly violent act that only drives him further away from redemption. As Warren, Beatrice, Marian and Virgil take turns telling the story, their distinctive voices--from Warren's mournful tones to Beatrice's subtle blend of ambition, power and rage--poignantly express the dynamics of their relationships. At times, the novel sings with a poetic simplicity that recalls Russell Banks or Carolyn Chute. It falters, however, when Weesner (author of the praised The Car Thief) eschews showing for telling, and when Warren's morbid outlook grows so relentless that it strains belief. (Feb.)
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