Affirming and wise, McInerney's latest (after Brightness Falls) opens in a setting familiar to other extraordinary American novels: the ivy-swaddled campus of a New England boarding school. Here, two students meet as roommates in the mid-1960s: Will Savage, a quixotic Southern bad boy bewitched by the blues, and Patrick Keane, the more reserved and ambitious narrator, bent on defying his humble origins. The two form one of youth's unlikely yet intangible friendships, permanently tethering their quite different paths. Will scours the back roads of the Delta for blues, quickly emerging as a player in the booming record industry, while Patrick grinds his way to the top of the country's elite academic and legal institutions. As Will disavows his old-fashioned, wealthy father, Patrick finds in the patriarch a beguiling mentor. Will is a radiant character--the sort of self-consuming talent who sinks his teeth into life's fruit while the rest of us wait in line--the sort we look upon, as Patrick does, with a volatile mix of admiration, pique and envy. With the humanity of an older man, yet with an accuracy that trips nerves long left for dead, Patrick recalls bygone days when, as he says at the end of this warm, wondrously empathetic work, ""I knew, at least for a little while, what it was like to be free."" (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996 Release date: 05/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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