Arthur Winfield Knight, Author . Forge $22.95 (283p) ISBN 978-0-312-87779-8

From the author of Johnny D, this bittersweet, curiously affecting little novel set in the bicentennial year 1976 chronicles the final three months in the life of Sara, the 30-year-old third wife of 50-year-old Sam Bonner—a near-legendary Hollywood director inescapably reminiscent of the late Sam Peckinpah—who is almost as infamous for his boozing, brawling and womanizing as he is celebrated for his films about violence and death. Diagnosed with leukemia, Sara is told that she has only three months to live. Hoping to satisfy her request to learn more about him in the few days left her, Sam (who's down on his luck and hasn't made a movie in five years) takes her on a meandering nostalgic odyssey through the West, visiting an odd array of former actors and associates and locations of his most memorable movies. After seeing his Fresno birthplace, they make their way across Nevada into Utah to visit an old time cowboy actor from Sam's tenderfoot days. In Colorado, Sara declines the opportunity to view the grave of the notorious Doc Holliday, who also died at age 30, of TB. In New Mexico, Sam calls on an aging screenwriter and recalls his monumental drunk while making a film about Billy the Kid. The Texas location for his most famous film (the plot is evocative of The Wild Bunch) is the next stop. Other sites on their itinerary include the Oklahoma grave of Pretty Boy Floyd, who also died at age 30, and Jesse James's grave in Missouri. Eventually, they make their way back to Malibu to await Sara's death. Here the narrative, which increasingly defies credibility as the mortally ill Sara summons spunky resolve to go on, finally sinks into bathos. Sadly, the epiphany the novelist seeks is not as clearly evoked as Sara's inexorable fate. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 12/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7653-0384-4
Ebook - 283 pages - 978-1-4668-4286-1
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