cover image Howard Elman’s Farewell

Howard Elman’s Farewell

Ernest Hebert. Univ. Press of New England, $19.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61168-541-1

Hebert’s Darby Chronicles, which have followed the citizens of Darby, N.H., since 1979’s The Dogs of March, concludes with this seventh volume, which lays bare the lives and dreams of the town’s inhabitants. Two extended families, both blessed or cursed with eccentric characters, are embroiled in a conflict that will determine the fate of Darby. Carlton “Critter” Jordan, son of the late notorious thief Ike, has it in for the family of Howard Elman, the town’s aging, unpaid constable, for reasons that remain unclear. Birch and his Geek Chorus Software colleagues plan to remake Darby physically with ambitious building plans and virtually as Darby Doomsday, an open-ended computer game. The enigmatic Elman, who takes his name from a great elm tree (elm man), is thoughtful, semi-literate, and stubborn; the stealthy destruction of his namesake tree is the signal event that drives him to seek the truth. Hebert’s American saga, with its colorful characters and intriguing word play, is an enduring accomplishment. (Sept.)