cover image Home Town

Home Town

Tracy Kidder. Soundelux Audio Publishing, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55935-297-0

Kidder (The Soul of the New Machine) applies his hands-on style of journalism to an examination of small-town America--specifically Northampton, Mass., home of Smith College--through assembling a group portrait of some of its everyday citizens. His central premise--""if you do all your growing up in the same small place, you don't shed identities, you accumulate them""--is chiefly demonstrated through the story of Tommy, a local cop. He's first seen as a mischievous teenage townie, an ""exuberant youth"" wooing his high school sweetheart, living in a white clapboard house. As Tommy grows into adulthood, Kidder shows his life becoming more complex, as when a childhood friend and fellow cop is suspected of child abuse. Because Kidder's writing style is so descriptive, it abridges easily into self-contained observational episodes, and reader Krall, though animated in his character depictions, preserves Kidder's overriding tone of earnestness. Based on the 1999 Random House hardcover. (May)