My Father in Dreams

C. E. Poverman, Author Scribner Book Company $0 (468p) ISBN 978-0-684-19012-9
In contrast to the spare and oblique language of much contemporary fiction, Poverman's ( Solomon's Daughter ) prose is generous and rich. This young-man-finding-himself epic contains enough raw material for at least four such novels. Instead, the author has elected to make one immense tale that follows Jed Hartwick from childhood to the present, mostly in flashbacks. The book begins with the crisis of Jed's impending fatherhood, and ends with his coming to terms with it. Along the way we are treated to stories about an immobilizing childhood illness, competitive diving, a prolonged sojourn in India and a step-by-step narrative about repairing a boat motor. The sprawl of this novel is one of its charms, but occasionally repetition and discontinuity creep in, and whole themesJeb too often invokes an alienated alter ego, ``Cat Meat Man''could have been omitted without losing the story's main thread. This is a thoughtful and poetic fiction, but for a novel this bulky, it isn't seamless enough. Were this a first novel, the impulse to include everything would have been more understandable. But with a Pushcart Prize for short fiction and three previously published novels, Poverman ought to have had the security to rein in his impulse to fill this one novel to the point of overflow. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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