Worry Beads

Kay Sloan, Author Louisiana State University Press $22.95 (197p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1636-4
Set in the small Mississippi town of Libertyburg, this quiet, richly evocative first novel follows the closely knit families of borthers Fred and Chester Bloomer and their wives, Winnie and Virginia, from 1942 until 1987. Chester's movie camera, purchased in 1942, begins to capture important family events, and the author's lyrical prose casts a spell over these milestones: the 1945 victory parade in downtown Libertyburg; a neighborhood costume party, with Virginia wearing a suggestive grass skirt; a family Christmas; vacations; and a wedding. But what is happening behind the masks of the participants? Sloan deftly delineates the concealed frustrations, rage and jealousy that lead to an affair between Virginia and Fred, and to Fred's mounting depression. Somehow the camera is lost by Fred's daughter (in an unintegrated yet electric episode) and Chester unwittingly misplaces the canister in which the movies are stored. When the film turns up 20 years later, faded, brittle, and shadowy, Chester gives it to his son-in-law, a Hollywood film editor, to restore, and plans are made to show it at the next family reunion. As the layers of deception are peeled away slowly, each family member must make a compromise with the past. This is a delicate, finely wrought effort. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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