cover image The Sorrow of Archaeology

The Sorrow of Archaeology

Russell Martin, . . Univ. of New Mexico, $25.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-8263-3725-2

As her MS symptoms become increasingly severe, Sarah MacLeish is forced to confront her own mortality and the unraveling of her marriage to handsome, gregarious Harry. Harry is an archeologist; Sarah gave up her life as a physician to join him on digs. Martin (Beethoven's Hair ) backtracks through Sarah's upbringing in Cortez, Colo., outlining the family history and delving into her preoccupation with the damaged skeleton of an adolescent Pueblo girl that has turned up on one of Harry's sites. When Sarah accidentally witnesses Harry's affair with Sarah's friend Alice, Sarah responds by taking off on an extended platonic road trip with one of the couple's best friends, the older Tom John, who is gay and proves a sage foil for Sarah's frustrations. Sarah and Harry then meet in New Mexico at the bedside of her grandmother Oma, who is forced to undergo gall bladder surgery, and who has been one of Sarah's emotional centers. The narrative occasionally stalls, and the dialogue doesn't dazzle, but Martin, beginning particularly with the road trip, gets to the bottom of Sarah's dilemmas and doesn't turn away from what he finds there. (Nov.)