The Road to Zena

Joel Redon, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-312-07791-4
Following If Not on Earth, Then in Heaven , Redon's atmospheric second novel in a projected quartet depicting the lives of his ancestors opens on the small Oregon town of the title when the 20th century is less than a month old. Tracing the bumpy courtship of his great-grandparents, during which a number of people seem to play meddling matchmaker, Redon vividly evokes the feel of the era, a time when automobiles and telephones offer great possibility, but also destroy the charm of distance. Repetitions of details serve as leitmotifs, capturing the rhythms of life in the Northwest nearly a century ago. Colorful characters abound--there's the gossip, the wall-flower, the patriarch who is more at home with his Civil War memories than in the present. Although tragedy occurs (in the graphically described suicide of an alcoholic cousin), the novel's overall effect is of intense affection. While Redon's prose is merely serviceable, his leisurely narrative may put readers in mind of period chronicles of America by Tarkington and Wilder. But in its effort to capture the boundless energy and optimism of the era, this volume more precisely calls up the tone poems of Charles Ives and Aaron Copland. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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