Statutes of Limitations

Monroe Engel, Author Alfred A. Knopf $16.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-394-57040-2
Intelligent, thoughtful and lucidly expressed, Engle's new novel portrays a man trying to come to terms with a void in his life. After selling his small chain of bookstores around Boston, Ben Morrison looks forward to a promised administrative position at a fledgling community college, with the possibility of a teaching job, too. But he has a strong feeling that his good fortune hasn't been earned, that catastrophe is waiting to strike, and he experiences a disquieting lack of direction as each day dawns. Ben feels distanced from his familyhis wife Lucky seems self-absorbed; his sons live far from home; his daughter Sarah, a lawyer, is having difficulty in her relationship with her lover Carl, a former activist with an uncertain future. In addition, Lucky's mother Faith, whose spirit Ben has long admired and whose insights he has relied upon, is dying. When Carl's past appears to imperil his application for a government-funded grant, Ben attempts to intervene and, in the process of untangling some consequences of Carl's actions, uncovers the roots of his own hopes and convictions. As Lucky plans her mother's 85th birthday celebration, Sarah announces she is pregnant, and Faith's condition worsens. Engel, head of Harvard's writing program and author of Fish and Voyager Belsky, conveys the subtle shifts of his characters' emotional equilibrium with respect and attention. Their conversation, in particular, is luminous, as carefully wrought and revealing as discourse in the novels of Henry James. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
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