Harris--novelist ( Bang the Drum Slowly ), screenwriter and literature professor at the University of Arizona--sets this accomplished coming-of-age novel with its strong autobiographical element in a New York City suburb in the second quarter of this century. The narrator, like Harris a writer of a certain age living in the Southwest, recalls with poignant clarity, regret and fondness his youth in Mount Vernon, N.Y., as the son of the police chief--playing basketball, selling the Saturday Evening Post and visiting his grandparents at Walk a Mile House, named for Grandfather's wildly successful Camel cigarette slogan. Central to the tale is the narrator's younger brother, Speed, whose admirable character, looks, intelligence and athletic ability are undermined by a profoundly disabling stutter. Uncertain whether he has been instrumental in the development of Speed's stutter, the narrator, favored by their family and others, is never unaware of Speed's inherent superiority. This unvoiced awareness gives a dark undercurrent of guilt and grief to the narrator's passage to adulthood as, through the years, he often takes advantage of his undeserved status. True to period details and his narrator's emotions, Harris shows us that life replete with success in love and work can yet be ruled by sorrow. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990 Release date: 09/01/1990 Genre: Fiction
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