By Harry Clifford Brown
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Henry Kessler wrestles. Not that he particularly likes to, especially when it’s with one of his best friends’ mother. Or when he wrestles with notions of how to coax his father out of the Airstream parked in the middle of the desert and back into the family home. Or how to get his fly-fishing classmate Julie to see him as more than just another trout swimming upstream, or how to help Lenny out of going to Vietnam or Greg from self destructing on drugs. And not that he particularly likes wrestling with his own existence either and figuring out where exactly he fits after eighteen years in Grand River.
Set in western Colorado, where mountains meet desert—against the backdrop of Vietnam, Nixon versus McGovern, and Jim Morrison and the Doors—this book is a romp, both real and imagined, across one summer after high school graduation. Four friends, four families, and a colorful cast of quirky characters people this poignant story of loss and redemption, from Miss Darling, the fortuneteller who lives in a mud hut on the canal bank by day and travels the stars by night, to Peefee Maldonado, whose staccato laughter resembles the glass-packed mufflers of his ’55 pickup; from Mr. Shimizu, the neighbor man who digs up his bonsai garden in favor of xeriscaping, to Mrs. Woods, a denizen of the country club, who prefers tennis whites, bikinis, and extra-dry martinis; from Redd Morgan, who’d just as soon belch out a beery insult than about anything else, to Mrs. Bartelli, whose zeal for Jesus is only matched by her disdain for her offspring.
Magic Club—a companion novel, not sequel, to Brown’s Sundays in August, also from Sunstone Press—has the same rich, sensory-driven prose, seamlessly melded galaxy of characters who dazzle and befuddle, and unpredictable twists that keep the reader guessing and off-balance. In a word, a gem.
Harry Clifford Brown lives with his wife Carolyn in Grand Junction, Colorado. He is currently working on a novel set in southern China, where he lived for two years teaching English to Chinese astronomers.
6 x 9