Eucalyptus Fair: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel

Lawrence Clark Powell, Author Books West Southwest $20 (271p) ISBN 978-0-9632966-0-3
In 1928, Bill Bridge, a self-absorbed college senior with literary ambitions, falls in love with perky, clingy freshman Joy Carpenter on an idyllic California campus overlooking the Pacific. With snippets of period slang and lots of swooning, Powell evokes magical poetry seminars, adolescents' intellectual awakenings and the heady rapture of first love. But Bridge, a stand-in for the author, chooses a doctoral fellowship in France over Joy, lets their relationship disintegrate and then learns she has married and had a baby. Much of this semi-fictionalized love story is a self-indulgent, sentimental tribute to Powell's wife of more than 50 years. He wrote most of it in 1943, but acceeded to his wife's wishes and did not try to publish it during her lifetime. Although the first 80 pages are wasted on a pious previous girlfriend, an unlikely match for the self-styled pagan, scotch-drinking pianist Bill, the 30-page coda, written in 1988, rescues the story. It's a beautifully controlled, poignant piece of writing in which Powell restores Bill to his senses: the youth returns to California during the Depression, reunites with his true love (with thanks to her kindly husband) and embarks on his calling. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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