Trinity Fields: 0a Novel

Bradford Morrow, Author Viking Books $22.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-670-85728-9
It's always a glad surprise when someone pigeonholed as a certain kind of writer makes a leap to a whole new level; and that's what Bradford Morrow, editor of the literary magazine Conjunctions and author previously of two well-reviewed but rather cloistered novels, Come Sunday and The Almanac Branch, has done here. Trinity Fields is a big, ambitious book whose characters are people as well as potent symbols, and whose tragic sense of America in war and peace is tellingly realized in writing of great resonance and beauty. Kip Calder and narrator Brice McCarthy were born within hours of each other in one of the strangest environments on earth: Los Alamos, just a year before the explosion of the atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the world forever. As boys, they are rebels against what their scientist fathers have created, anxious to expiate what they see as a crime against the natural world they love. Kip is the wild, impulsive loner, Brice the more clearsighted follower; both boys are drawn with care and affection as they grow into adulthood and gradually away from each other. Brice moves into antiwar activism at Columbia and eventually a life as a public-interest lawyer; Kip charges into the military, first as a flier in Vietnam, later a spook in the hidden war in Laos, who stays on after the war, trying to heal a people he comes to see have been cruelly exploited by both sides. Their relationship is further complicated by their perhaps inevitable love for the same woman; Kip fathers her baby daughter, whom Brice brings up after Kip disappears into the jungle. How these emblematic figures work out their feelings for each other and their country after Kip reappears 20 years later is the center of Morrow's book, and there is nothing remotely facile or sentimental about his resolutions. Throughout, his tone is thoughtful, elegiac; and there are many wonderful character sketches, like that of Brice's wise but religiously obsessed, gin-loving mother. The impression that lingers is of one of sorrow and love, both for a country and some of the rare people who inhabit it; it is a scale of vision displayed by few novelists today. 35,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-024013-9
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-200232-2
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