cover image Any Day Now

Any Day Now

Terry Bisson. Overlook, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59020-709-3

Locus magazine columnist Bisson pays homage to the beat poets as he embraces the social atmosphere of the late ’60s and early ’70s in staccato, pared-down prose that suits the novel’s coming-of-age narrative. Clay is born to moderately progressive parents in the conservative Kentucky town of Owensboro. As a young college dropout and malcontent, he heads to New York and finds himself on the periphery of the radical left. After becoming linked to the extremist Weathermen just as they bomb a New York City building, Clay flees to New Mexico and settles in a makeshift hippie commune beneath a geodesic dome. As a character, Clay is a beautifully drawn emblem for the identity crisis playing itself out in America then: at once an unassuming mechanic who embodies smalltown American values and an idealistic beat poet who has rejected mainstream society. Snippets of the outside world come to us as they do to Clay, through letters from his mother and occasional newspapers that paint a picture of an inhospitable and treacherous period of American history. Bisson shows true finesse in capturing the mood of a generation. Though shy of 300 pages, the novel feels epic. Agent: John Silbersack, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)