The Outer Cape

Patrick Dacey. Holt, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62779-467-1
The first novel by the author of the short story collection We’ve Already Gone This Far turns the usual Cape Cod narrative on its head, locating itself not in a dreamy vacationland but in the daily struggles of a family vanquished by the attempt to move up the social ladder. Father Robert attempts to take over his dad’s real estate business, but finds himself tempted to engage in one scam after another, finally ending up in prison. Mother Irene, at first an aspiring artist, devotes herself to shopping and becomes bulimic. Pudgy older son Nathan toughens up, joins the military, and returns damaged from Iraq and Afghanistan, while sensitive younger son Andrew, still trying fruitlessly to please his father, loses himself in a passionless marriage and a career in finance. The novel follows the family from Robert and Irene’s meeting in 1977 through the savings and loan crisis of the ’90s up to the present day, when the family reunites on the Cape to deal with an illness Irene is facing. Though John Updike and Richard Yates are obvious influences, Dacey has a gritty voice of his own. Although when the characters are separated, the novel sometimes descends into unrelated vignettes, the author has a strong grip on the dynamics that follow through a family from generation to generation, particularly from father to son. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017
Release date: 06/27/2017
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