Birdsong Ascending

Sam Harrison, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $21.95 (382p) ISBN 978-0-15-100060-9
Frank Birdsong is caught in a double bind. He is romancing the daughter of a former lover while gradually falling back in love with her mother; at the same time, he is investigating attempts by persons unknown to implicate his planned golf course development in alleged toxic dumping. Harrison ( Walls of Blue Coquina ) serves up a moody exercise in Florida noir with narration by the older woman, which proves to be an awkward device. Like the Florida landscapes in which it is set, the novel seems overgrown with the foliage of mood and character, so dense with incident and subsidiary plots--lost souls, shattered families, suicide, murder and the ravages of old age--that several books might easily be wrought out of the material packed into this single volume. The author finally unites the major themes and most of the characters, and although the working out of the principal elements seems a trifle schematic, the result is an effective and evocative example of Southern gothic, with a touch of magical realism. ( Jan. )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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