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Product details

  • Hardback | 234 pages
  • 140 x 220mm
  • United Kingdom
  • 0151231508
  • 9780151231508

Review Text

"No crossing places, Father and son, they turned vague faces toward one another." Thus clergyman Mayhew, on that hot August day of 1886, when his surviving son Prentiss was running toward freedom; when his young daughter-in-law Clovis was giving birth to a daughter; when wife Elizabeth, stripped of warmth and love, relived her own birth. Death and birth, considers Mayhew, may rouse the sluggish minds and hearts from torpor, but mainly "We live in the middle of things." By the device of presenting the two halves of the novel back to back, Rovit deals with life's muddled middle using one time segment in both - allowing the thoughts of Mayhew, Elizabeth, Prentiss and Clovis to slice back and forth, never touching. Like Zeno's paradox, Rovit's splitting of the time continuum suggests an infinity of instants; yet in the birth each one finds a momentary revelation. While Elizabeth knows tenderness - "some unnamed formless connection," while Prentiss flees from the hatred of his mother and the entrapment of fatherhood, Clovis has a child and Mayhew meanders. He wearily mulls over the futility of action - "a man was obliged to wrench meaning out of things. . . simply to give shape to the intolerable vacancy of a warm afternoon." Rovit, the author of The Player King (1965), writes most effectively of the warm afternoons of middle age in which introspection and actual events lose their distinctive edge in the "violent mulch" of creative decay. An impressive meditation - but still a meditation. (Kirkus Reviews)
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