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148 Western American Literature his fiction; there is something . . . sterile and artificial about his characters and novels” (p. 223). World was written primarily by Miller the Thinker rather than by the creator of Fillmore, Carl, and the unforgettable Van Norden. A sexually hard-bitten, comic response to Lawrence and to his art might have been invaluable, but World unfortunately does not come from that side of Miller. DONALD GUTIERREZ Western New Mexico University Sons of Adam. By Frederick Manfred. (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1980. 341 pages, $12.95.) Sons of Adam is a warm and human novel. Many scenes are as delight­ ful and ingenuous as Manfred’s reminiscence, The Wind Blows Free, and contain equally marvelous evocations of time and place. Here the time is the late 30’s, the place the Twin Cities, with extensions into Siouxland. The two protagonists, Alan and Red, have both come to the cities from South Dakota farms. Although near the end of the novel Alan discovers that he and Red are second cousins, the two have little else in common. Alan, a recent college graduate, is a reporter in the sports department of a Minneapolis paper, while Red is a pig sticker in the South St. Paul stock yards who moonlights as a boxer. When Alan first sees Red he reacts as if he has seen his twin brother, who died at birth, and whom Alan has created in fantasy as his haunt brother. This is the glue that is meant to bond the two men, but it’s more like library paste, for Manfred abandons the twin motif soon after the meeting of the two men. The result is that the novel tells two stories, Alan’s and Red’s, with shorter stories for the two main women characters — Jael, the 18-year-old nympho whom Alan falls in love with, and Jen, Red’s wife, whose fears and frigidity are the residue of an incestuous relationship begun by her uncle when she was 13. Alan’s story, a fictional continuation of Manfred’s reminiscence, is one of loss of innocence, of initiation not only into sex but into the hypocrisy, pettiness, ruthlessness of urban life. But Alan comes across more as an observer of than a participant in life, so that he seems to be unchanged at the end of the novel. Such is not the case with Red. He does change, and his story is the core of the book, his character one of the strongest Manfred has ever created. Because Red as a child watched a friend engage in an act of bestiality with a sow, he felt “guilty as if he’d done it himself.” He carries this load of guilt through his year or more in the stockyard where, as his Reviews 149 father forced him to do just before he left the farm, he sticks pigs — thus symbolically performing the act he had witnessed. When he breaks under the strain, he stabs his wife — also a symbolic act — and flees, certain that he has committed murder. Eventually he reaches a haven of safety, a Hutterite colony, where he is accepted as he is, where he sheds his guilt, and where he returns with Jen, whom he has helped to become free of her guilt, and with the Hutterite leader who can accept him as his father was never able to do. From this story of a modern Cain emerges a strong theme of redemption and salvation. But the total novel explodes no theme, nor is it structurally taut. It’s well worth the reading, however, for Red’s story with its gripping description of his flight from St. Paul and powerful picture of the stockyard kill and for such delightful scenes as the one which encapsulates academic life in a 12 page account of a faculty party Alan attends. The thinly-veiled portraits of many Minneapolitans of the time, the accounts of events such as a goon squad attack on a picket line, and of popular pastimes like riverbanking all contribute to the reader’s enjoyment if not, in most instances, to the movement of the novel as a whole. BEATRICE K. MORTON, Darby...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 148-149
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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