The Beginning of Sorrows

David Martin, Author
David Martin, Author Grove Press $16.95 (241p) ISBN 978-1-55584-063-1
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
There are three heroes in this breathtaking novel by the author of The Crying Heart Tattoo: Jess, the youngest, a fat wunderkind with glasses; Johnny Reace, a charming wanderer who stays fixed for a moment that lasts forever; and Bonner Relee, as tall as Lincoln and as dedicated, and bent on making Beaker Mansion a fit dwelling-place for his grandson Jess and Jess's mother Alva. Jess is special not just because he is the one child in the Illinois hamlet of Beaker's Bride but because he can fly, a fact known only to himself and his instigating spirit Beehart until Johnny Reace comes along and discovers it. This endears him to Jess at the same time that it sets the stage for unspeakable tragedy. But Johnny, who sells the car that licenses his wanderlust in order to buy bathroom fixtures for Beaker Mansion, becomes everyone's object of desire, especially Alva's, whose bed is now no longer available to Bonner. Johnny knows himself too well and respects Bonner too profoundly to succumb to her blatant urging; he must leave, before the mansion is completed, before Jess proves that he can fly, before the sculptured bird that will be Bonner's gravestone is set in place. And this is the one act that Johnny, who can do anything, fails to perform. This buoyant, mysterious book, with its magnificent landscapes and its dark portraits, is a tour de force. (August 21)
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