Queen of the Silver Dollar

Edward Hower, Author Permanent Press (NY) $24 (220p) ISBN 978-1-877946-92-9
Oversized June Chatwin, a 21-year-old who wears a big black Stetson, is good at listening to other people's problems--a good thing since the former rodeo rider, general outsider and recovering alcoholic has landed herself at a Connecticut asylum so elitist that the inmates are referred to by the staff as ""guests"" and the hospital stationery reads ""The Pines... An Inn."" Sober for the first time in years, she takes new pleasure in learning about other peoples' lives, and she's surrounded by fascinating personalities: a screenwriter whose one smashing success no one remembers; a ballplayer with the weight of Harlem on his shoulders; and Jack, a native New Englander who assures her just after they meet that she's ""not ridiculous,"" the most romantic words she's ever heard. With all her energies focused on others, however, how will June find the time to focus on her own past--which includes getting gang raped on the bar of a gin mill--and her gay brother's attempted suicide? Hower's (Night Train Blues) fifth novel is frequently amusing and insightful, although Jack and June both seem much older than in their 20s. The questions that unfold are emotionally charged: Will they become lovers or friends within the confines of the country club/institution? Will their relationship survive in the ""real world"" if and when they both get out? Readers will root for June as she learns that the best therapy often comes from other patients rather than from professionals. More importantly, she learns from her friendship with Jack that the biggest ghosts from our pasts are often ourselves. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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