Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth

Brett Laidlaw, Author W. W. Norton & Company $15.95 (255p) ISBN 978-0-393-02510-1
Its background a recordbreaking Minnesota cold spell culminating in a ferocious blizzard, this remarkably sensitive and intelligent first novel chronicles three days in the disintegration of a family. Humbled by his failure to win renown as a poet, Ulysses Turner Fraser is a sadly disillusioned professor of English in Minneapolis. U.T., as he is called, still writes poetry, and he talks it too, studding his conversation with quotations and attempting to raise his two sons as ""a new breed of poetic man, to whom metaphor would be second nature, for whom the world would be a poem waiting to be scanned.'' The sons, aspiring novelist and college senior Colin, and Bryce, about to graduate from high school, understand their father's vulnerability; so does his wife Bitsy, who forgives U.T. for ignoring her birthday when instead he presides at a reading of his poetry at the University.stet u.c. But U.T., in despair over what he perceives to be his failure as a teacher, as a bearer of the poetic heritage and as a husband and father, fatalistically finds himself drawn to the high bridge over the Mississippi, where he ends his life. Ironically, he will never know how much he was loved, appreciated and admired; how influential his life has been. Laidlaw's prose grows in power as he delineates the nuances of human relationships revealed in the mundane details of family life. Discriminating readers may find themselves surprised by the emotional impact this cerebral novel delivers. (February)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1988
Release date: 02/01/1988
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-393-33595-8
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