The Last to Go: A Family Chronicle

Rand Richard Cooper, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $16.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-15-148430-0
This fine first novel, chronicling the fortunes and misfortunes of two generations of the Slattery family, documents suburbia in Cheeveresque terms. At the outset we find Mary Ellen, abandoned by Daniel Slattery after 25 years of marriage, sorting through the bric-a-brac of her shattered life. What a stinker Daniel must be, we think. By the end of the book, we know that's not true: if anything, he's a reasonable facsimile of a latter-day hero. He started out poor, did well, meant well, helped others and was affectionate and sensitive. If there is a villain in the piece, it's a set of American shibboleths concerning the family: most notably, that for every man and woman there is a spiritual doppelganger of the opposite sex with whom one can achieve everlasting happiness. But when Dan and Mary Ellen discover that their love is not immutable, the options are bleak. Their children try some alternative life styles during the '60s and '70s with results that are even more discouraging. Billed as a collection of stories, this is, in fact, a novel, with a beginning, a developmental middle and an enda whole that's more than the sum of its parts, despite its loose construction. Ironic, accurately observed and captivating, it is a first-rate piece of work. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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