The Progress of a Fire

Robert H. Abel, Author Simon & Schuster $18.45 (509p) ISBN 978-0-671-50931-6
Abel's compelling novel depicts two flawed but chivalric men drawn together by adversity. The polarity between Jim Williams, a Vietnam veteran working as a news photographer at the Boston Globe, and middle-aged Chinese-American painter Chong Hu Lan couldn't be greater. His wartime experiences have left Jim with a legacy of fear, uncertainty and rage, which he quells by drinking. After his disgruntled wife leaves him, Jim settles in the pastoral western Massachusetts village of Lake Ecstasy with a fellow Vietnam vet. Another new resident there is the irrepressibly buoyant Chong, who discovers runaway teenager Ginny Cahill living in an abandoned bus on his property. Chong ushers Ginny into his home and heart when she tells him she has been abused by her mother's malicious beau Billy Parker, the ringleader of a local gang of ruffians. When Parker and his thugs begin harrassing Chong, Jim fatalistically decides to deter the dangerous bully at any cost. The lyricism and intensity of Abel's prose heighten the drama of this well-crafted, often poignant story. Foreign rights: S & S. December
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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