Chester's Last Stand

Richard Eric Brown, Author University of Nevada Press $20 (194p) ISBN 978-0-87417-138-9
An unconventional. highly inventive tale unfolds in this first novel set in rural midwest America in the 1930s, the Depression years. When Chester, a hungry hobo from the city, jumps off a freight at Hickman, a little pocket of a town in northern Missouri, and walks down the Wilsons' dusty road, his destiny is settled. The four Wilson brothers, farmers married to four sisters, living on adjoining acreage, spot a likely dupe for their favorite activity, telling stories about their monstrous practical jokes. In fact, says the third-generation narrator of their complex japes, ``the gift of gab bedeviled them so that they could never rest with the stock of family legends,'' but had to construct them so that the Wilson men were always triumphant in their cunning. Chester, undernourished and beholden for his food, develops his own kind of guile, bringing down the seemingly invincible Wilsons in an amazing way. Contributing to the narrative are a lecherous minister with a yen for one of the Wilson wives, and the pseudo-kidnapping of the Wilson's slavey, lovely Lindy, who ends up with Chester. After a pedestrian opening that sets the genealogical scene, the tale of trickery takes off with earthy humor in the best manner of the American folklore heritage. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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