cover image THE GOOD REMAINS


Nani Power, . . Grove, $24 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1720-5

Antihero C.R. Ash's scrambled vision of the world might be due to bourbon; on the other hand, it might be due to Power's addiction to a sort of Faulknerian stream-of-consciousness style. In any case, C.R., the aging neonatal specialist at the center of Power's second novel (after the critically acclaimed Crawling at Night), is suffering from three problems: a chronic nostalgia for the world of his Confederate ancestor, "Shrub" Ash, who died at the battle of Ball's Bluff, Va.; a chronic inability to connect to any woman who mentions the word marriage; and, most pressingly, the judgment of the Ball's Bluff Babies Hospital governors, seconded by his conscience, that he is responsible for the death of Baby Hodges, aka "Tuffy." Tuffy was the unexpected offspring of a teenage candy striper, Kirsten, for whom C.R. has the hots. The baby's father, 16-year-old Todd Redman, learns of his fatherhood through the high school grapevine. It freaks Todd out, sending him to find companionship with his next-door neighbor, the school acid-head, Hermie Carson. Kristen's, Todd's and C.R.'s troubles come to a head at the hospital's Christmas party, catered by Todd's mother, Diane. All the ghosts come out on that night, from Hermie's suicide father to Ball's Bluff battle veterans. It takes a while for the different strands of the novel to develop into full-fledged story lines, but the reader's patience will be rewarded by the black humor Power mines from this likably wacky town. Agent, Wendy Sherman.(Sept.)