Monkey Bay

Elaine Ford, Author Viking Books $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-82752-7
Set in a coastal Maine town, Ford's ( Ivory Bright ) engaging, bittersweet novel keeps the reader vacillating between hope and dread. The story takes place during the relentless off-season, from rain through snow to mud. Some 12 years ago, Marilla Pratt left her husband, Lyle (whose one talent is to make people pity him), to run off with Tucker Burchard, a rogue. The Pratts' adolescent daughter, Hannah, was a casualty of the split; molested by her father after her mother's departure, she finally fled, too. Now, with Lyle married to Frances, a smug ex-teacher, and Marilla living with Tucker in the house he whacked together out of salvaged bits and pieces, the emotionally maimed Hannah, now a woman, comes back to town. These characters squander their time in laundromats, trailers, partitioned offices and Pepsi Redemption Centers, their lives mapped by circumstances. In this carefully observed, hostile world--where bullets are held in a hand like ``the scat of some animal'' and a boy urinating ``cut a lot of holes in the snow, like bullet holes''--literal and emotional killing is continuous. Captured in spare, ringingly authentic dialogue and leavened with ironic humor, Ford's close-up on quietly desperate lives, like Walker Evans's famous photos, is beautiful and disturbing. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-14-012057-8
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