cover image Hey Jack!

Hey Jack!

Barry Hannah. Dutton Books, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-24558-2

In this slender new novel by the author of Airships, the story line advances casually, but in Hannah's wonderfully original, distinctive fashion. The setting is a sleepy Mississippi college town, where there is lots of time for tennis and gossip. The narrator, Homer, is 56, a veteran of Korea, literate and enviously well off. He spends hours at a time with his friend Jack, a cafe owner, talking, for the most part, about the debauched local rock star, Ronnie Foot. Nothing about Ronnie is good, but the worst thing he has done is take up with Jack's daughter, the schoolteacher Alice. Much of what goes on herelust, violence and eccentricityis familiar in Southern literature. There is nothing hackneyed, though, in Hannah's telling. The story and characters are brought into sharp focus by the resonant imagery. From Homer's vibrant new wife, with ""hair charging blond from her head,'' to the black-comedy description of the Foot mansion, every word is fresh and precise. Hannah's wry voice is spellbinding. (September 11)