Six Miles to Roadside Business

Michael Doane, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-394-58106-4
After three years away, Vance Ravel (``rhymes with travel'') returns to Roadside Business, his boyhood home in southwest Utah, to begin the final leg of his journey of atonement in this quirky, convincing examination of betrayal, guilt and innocence. Ravel's father, a Marine assigned to the atomic testing site in nearby Nevada, died under mysterious circumstances when Ravel was a boy. Years later, in the desert, Ravel became the center of a cult, called the Er, whose members sought wisdom from the son of ``the man who walked into the light.'' But the Er's bizarre practices, unchecked by Ravel (whose fantasies about his father were fed by the Er's adulation), resulted in murder; Ravel's wife, Cassie, left with their young son; Ravel destroyed the settlement, earning the hatred of the sect's members. In concentrated musical prose, Doane ( The L e gends of Jesse Dark ) describes Ravel's patient efforts to establish a normal life in Roadside Business and win back doubtful Cassie. He alternates these scenes with flashbacks of Ravel's father's last days and still others involving one of the remaining Er, a simple young man whose ultimate redemption Ravel will share. Evocative of place, with humor and a cast of fully realized characters, Doane's provocative, hard-edged tale has a lasting afterglow. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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