Lydia

Tim Sandlin, Author
Tim Sandlin, Sourcebooks Landmark, $24.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4022-4181-9
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Picking up the characters from his GroVant trilogy, published 15 years ago, Sandlin returns to the small Wyoming town where it all began. Newbies can quickly get up to speed on the major players despite the convoluted plot: narrator Sam Callahan; his aimless adult daughter, Shannon; and his mother, Lydia, recently released from prison after a long-ago attempt to poison Ronald Reagan's dog. Lydia's parole requires writing the life story of centenarian Oly Pedersen, but then she hatches a scheme for a road trip to California (taking along Oly) so Roger, a young man unofficially adopted by Sam, might discover his origins. Meanwhile, the terrifying Leroy, who dumped Roger off on friends years ago, is hunting him now, believing Roger must die for the universe to achieve balance. The story itself fails to live up to Sandlin's quirky, colorful characters: Oly's pretend catatonia; Sam's star-worship of Roger's possible father, who wrote Yeast Infection; Lydia's conniving self-absorption; Shannon's bizarre ideas on seduction. And a dissonant tonality develops as a result of all the "zany" juxtaposed against Oly's serious narrative, whether true, or, as Lydia believes, concocted. More troubling, though, is the first-person POV that continually takes the reader out of the narrative flow. So much of the story occurs without Sam's attendance that confusion reigns; how can he possibly know what everyone's doing? (Apr.)
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