Second Son

Stephen Stark, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (374p) ISBN 978-0-8050-1943-8
This moving and eloquent--if at times overwrought--novel examines a difficult father-son relationship, one forged in the crucible of tragedy. Jack Pleasance's mother committed suicide when he was a child, and his only brother was killed in an Air Force helicopter accident. To escape this dark past, 26-year-old Jack cuts himself off from his inscrutable father, Addie. Abruptly leaving a job in Richmond and settling in a Virginia hamlet, he is drawn into an affair with a masochistic woman who is almost old enough to be his mother, and also falls in love with a younger woman who is married to a jealous and trigger-happy drug dealer. Meanwhile, Addie takes up with the girlfriend his son has left behind. Shifting between Jack's story, which Jack narrates, and Addie's tale, recounted in the third person, this ambitious and charged narrative unfolds the Pleasance family's history, as violence and maturity bring father and son to new understanding. Stark ( The Outskirts ) uses fresh, vigorous language to illuminate complex emotions, but his tendency to endow his characters with preternatural self-awareness tests the limits of plausibiity. Yet the sustained elegaic tone is a powerful magnet that holds the reader to the page. 15,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1992
Release date: 07/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 373 pages - 978-0-671-87119-2
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