What Are We Doing in Latin America?: A Novel about Connecticut

Robert Riche, Author Permanent Press (NY) $24 (223p) ISBN 978-1-877946-01-1
Amid the sharp humor and trenchant social commentary in this author's first novel, a bleakness and despair are clearly manifest. Bill Brock's life is unraveling, and he along with it. At age 50, he is a prisoner of an unsatisfying job, a listless marriage and a large house in Connecticut--and he drinks too much. To round out his sentence, his teenage son is surly and possibly a criminal, and his formerly adoring daughter is sassy, and his father is an intolerable boor. That Brock's lifestyle is the envy of most Americans is of no solace as he becomes increasingly unhinged, lashing out intemperately at his family on the flimsiest provocations, all the while depserately seeking ``dignity,'' which he believes to be the universal panacea. Broc is a basically decent man, and the reader roots for him as he frantically attempts to make sense out of what has become a meaningless existence. Within a short time the situation begins to right itself, providing a kind of symmetry-- but not credibility--to the plot, since Brock's emotional balance is achieved in an apocalyptic fashion. The title--an attempt to compare U.S. sabre-rattling foreign interventionism to Brock's seemingly mindless bellicosity--stretches the analogy too far, but the novel does offer interesting insights and some clever, if macabre, humor. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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