The Green Suit

Dwight Allen, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $22.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56512-274-1
Allen's ambling series of linked short stories describes the life arc of Peter Sackrider, a bemused Southerner with literary ambitions who drifts in the 1970s, '80s and '90s from a career in publishing to a life in writing, growing gradually more aware of his shortcomings as he moves from Kentucky to New York to Wisconsin. Told alternately from Sackrider's point of view, and from the perspectives of several of the women in his life, the individual stories move along at a pleasantly relaxed pace. Scenes from Sackrider's Vietnam-era adolescence capture his clumsy early attempts at romance and his affable, respectable family's leisurely life. After Sackrider graduates from an undistinguished Southern college, he gets a job in Manhattan as an editorial assistant. Haplessly witnessing the death of an editor's dog (whom he happens to be walking at the time; it's the second dog death in the book), he resigns immediately and drifts onward. His marriage to Claire, a professor of Italian with whom he has a son, lasts longer than most of his relatives believe it will, but it, too, ends eventually. The antics of a bizarre set of characters, including the eccentric homosexual editor who gets Sackrider his first job in publishing, a tormented neighbor who manipulates Sackrider into admission of his own weaknesses after harassing Sackrider's family, and the Hispanic hotshot superintendent who wears the green suit of the title as a declaration of pride, or perhaps machismo, supplement Allen's account of Sackrider's bumbling progress. Amiably amusing, though lacking somewhat in cumulative force, this roundabout portrait of a writer's spiritual and intellectual education is a promising, low-key debut. 9-city author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-452-28265-0
Open Ebook - 314 pages - 978-0-299-28363-6
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-0-299-28364-3
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