V for Victor

Mark Childress, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-56871-3
Taking its title from the ``V for Victory'' salute of WW II, Childress's second novel has a nostalgia-inducing wealth of period detail. It is not so successful as a coming-of-age narrative, however, since Childress seems not to have been able to restrain himself from indulging in a boy's fantasy of adventure, heroism and romance. The 16-year-old son of a brutal shrimp fisherman, Victor is itching to run off to join his older brother in the navy. Instead, he is consigned to watch over his elderly grandmother who lives alone on an island in Mobile (Ala.) Bay. One night he stumbles on a dead body, the first in a series of events that involves him with a Nazi submarine, a hard-nosed teenaged bootlegger named Butch, a specious coast marshall, a wealthy old man, his narcissistic actress wife and her seductive grandaughter. Childress's A World Made of Fire was melodramatic but mesmerizing. Here his tendency to melodrama is not redeemed by the nature of the material, freighted as it is with mysterious coincidences and predictable plot manipulations. In their attempts to outwit the Nazi collaborationists and the crew of the U-boat, Victor and Butch share some desperately dangerous experiences and metamorphose, in the end, to Tom and Huck, taking a boat down the river. While it doesn't convince as a novel, the cinematic plot is perfect for a thriller movie. (Jan)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-345-35427-3
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-345-42005-3
Paperback - 258 pages - 978-1-4781-4752-7
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