Second Sight

Rickey Gard Diamond, Author Calyx Books $14.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-934971-55-3
The isolated wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula forms a striking backdrop to this debut novel, which soberly mines the spiritual cost of family violence. After a failed marriage, Gabrielle Bissonette returns to her family's vacant cabin to write her Master's thesis--a caustic critique of Ernest Hemingway--and to hunt deer for sustenance through the long winter. A rugged gameswoman at home in her own solitude, Gabe finds that tracking, killing and skinning deer is nothing compared to negotiating the unpredictable rage of her brother, Robert, a Vietnam veteran and ex-con. In 1973, while Robert is finishing his time in prison, Gabe's quiet routine is broken by the surprise arrival of Robert's ethereal fiancee, Valley, a young drifter who brings cheap glamour to the backwoods. Initially wary of each another, the women gradually form a meaningful bond as they become increasingly victimized by Robert's brutality and deceptive charm. The women resonate with conflicting emotions as they cling to hope despite festering disappointments. Surrounding the principal characters is the family patriarch, Henry Bissonette, a stroke victim who manages to inspire both anger and sympathy. Diamond writes well and clearly about the beauty and moral neutrality of nature. But she hobbles her story with an awkward structure, interrupting the engrossing third-person narrative of the crucial events of 1973 with introspective excerpts from Gabe's journal recorded a decade later. Intended to illuminate Gabe's courageous efforts to grapple with the violent past of her shattered family, the journal entries are superfluous, undermining the subtle power and bracing particularity that Diamond brings, in the book's best moments, to a familiar theme. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Hardcover - 260 pages - 978-0-06-019203-7
Hardcover - 228 pages - 978-0-934971-56-0
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-0-934971-80-5
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-06-092940-4
Hardcover - 228 pages - 978-0-934971-81-2
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