Prolific novelist (Wild at Heart) and screenwriter (Lost Highway) Gifford delivers a sedate story written almost entirely in meandering dialogue between a mother and her precocious nine- year-old son, Roy. The book takes place in the mid-1950s as Kitty and Roy drive across the American South and Midwest. Traveling from place to placeDrarely leaving the carDthey try to pass time in idle, soft-focus banter about their hopes and disappointments, occasionally musing about such big topics as fate, personal loss, divorce, death and the soul. The background unfolds: Kitty has left Roy's dishonest father, whose health is failing, while Roy craves reassurances that both parents still love him. But content mirrors form in that, just as the two never arrive at any final destination, their desultory conversations rarely resolve issues or discover anything new; and the novel's brief, episodic chapters ensure that no subject is dealt with profoundly or in full. Action is generally light (a train passes, a road curves, a hotel room is dirty), but even when more dramatic events happen (i.e., Roy's father takes a turn for the worse), the voices of mother and son are sometimes indistinguishable and their reminiscences and longings are so vague and personal as to be irrelevant. The pair seem lost, both on their journey and in lax, unremarkable conversation, leaving the reader to wonder why Gifford won't give them a bit more gas, a few more twists in the road and, above all, some direction. Line drawings by Gifford throughout. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000 Release date: 07/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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