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The mother dies by random accident. The father's friend, swayed by "the crudest concept of tragedy. ..the simple fall of men from whatever heights they have achieved," kills himself.
These are the events that provoke the father to abandon his orderly life as an English professor in the kingdom of a small college campus, taking his son to teach the boy, with travels and a trunkful of tools, about the other kingdoms.
"Literature is too redemptive!" That is the father's theme in the exuberant conversation he carries on with his son as they travel back through the places of the father's past and onward to places where both are strangers, making their living by fixing broken things. The father gives all of his sparkling education to this son, teaching him geometry on sandy beaches, botany in fields. Above all, he theatrically quotes poetry and literature, always making his case against the artificial order of literature, always warning his son against expectations of order.
The son accepts the father's invaluable love and lessons until the others he meets and he himself being to qualify, reshape, sift his father's lessons. Narrated by the son, this novel of action and quiet places and startling conversation shows a creative vision of how fathers and sons can grow together and separate without the clash of life-stunting conflict.
Barry Targan lives in Schuylerville, New York. His is also the author of two books of short fiction, Harry Belten and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Surviving Adverse Seasons.