Sheltered Lives

Frank Milburn, Author Doubleday Books $15.95 (183p) ISBN 978-0-385-19009-1
This effective indictment of the superfluous rituals and genteel veneer maintained by an affluent Long Island family in the early 1960s focuses primarily on David Winant, whose clan is engaged in banking. Stability eludes young David, who survives Vietnam, only to be devastated by his relatives' pain. His mother, a chronic inebriate, incessantly chatters about social trivia; his detached, sanctimonious father continues an extramarital affair while ignoring the disarray at home; Emily, David's sister, takes refuge at a Virginia prep school, where she and some other moneyed misfits indulge in prostitution. Impotent to help his kin, David also finds he can neither easily regain his former girlfriend nor sustain a relationship with an Army buddy's widow. Finally, the father's rancor towards Emily brings about a catastrophe that threatens to obliterate whatever cohesiveness this embattled family still shares. Milburn expertly uses straightforward writing spiced with sarcasm (""his mother had spent a lot of time in storage during David's wonder years'') to depict the unfocused, squandered lives of these morally destitute people. (November 7)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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