A Nixon Man

Michael Cahill, Author St. Martin's Griffin $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-18749-1
As the Nixon Watergate hearings unfold on TV, 11-year-old San Franciscan Jack Costello is taking a tip from Tricky Dick: secretly recording his parents' telephone conversations with a device ordered from a comic book. Through this eavesdropping, he discovers unpleasant secrets about his father, his mentally handicapped sister Macie and himself. Like Jack, the reader lies in wait for these secrets as Cahill's careful sketch of the Costello family through Jack's eyes reveals the tensions in his family--the silence between his parents, his mother's anger, his father's insomnia--and the reader anticipates the exposure of their sources with the dread and greed of a guilty voyeur. But 1972 has more to offer Jack than just family strife: he streaks through Haight-Ashbury with a gang of friends, he gets a crush on a girl, and there are crucial turning points in his life--his dilemmas over whether he should trade his favorite toy jeep for a coveted issue of Playboy, the social missteps that may force him to befriend the outcasts he once teased. These events are deftly handled by Cahill, whose steady, restrained writing give the novel a tension that holds together the somewhat meandering episodic plot. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-0-312-24488-0
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