What the Scarecrow Said

Stewart David Ikeda, Author ReganBooks $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-039164-5
William Fujita is the ""Maybe-Maybe Man."" Born in 1897 on a boat traveling from Japan to America, he is neither Westerner nor Easterner. In 1944, Fujita, who grew up to be a California nurseryman only to be interred in Arizona during the war, is brought to Widow's Peak, Mass., by Margaret Kelly, former nurse, recent widow and full-time do-gooder. Teaming up with another widow-a lush with an emotionally damaged son-Margaret decrees that the four of them will go into farming. The truth about Fujita's painful past is subtly, slowly recounted through flashbacks-his early years out West; the loss of property, wife and son during his internment; his search for the mother of his grandchild-that alternate with the story of life in Widow's Peak. Fujita's experiences have belied the dream of the melting pot, so it's no surprise when the citizens of his adopted home initially prove resistant to his presence and to the quartet's unconventional living arrangements. Evoking ghosts of a nation's past, Ikeda never imposes present-day sensibilities on his characters. Fujita evinces an almost unreal lack of resentment over his losses, however, and the narration gets preachy at times. But this generous story of psychological healing-eschewing both the traditionally heroic treatment of the time and a revisionist, damning one-provides a version of wartime life that may be as true as any. $35,000 ad/promo; author tour; dramatic rights: ReganBooks. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-06-098718-3
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