At the start of this vibrant and invigorating novel, Robert Brill has a farm, a law practice, a daughter in high school, a son fighting in Vietnam, and a wife who deep-dives into the sherry bottle every night. What more can a typical Midwesterner ask for in the late 1960s? A lot, thinks Brill.
Beautiful, sad Ellen Beniger; her younger brother, Tom, a scholar unhappily moonlighting as a TV writer; the athletic amorist Guy Cinturon; and tough little Eddie Bissle, ex-infantryman and Ellen's secret lover, struggle to come to grips with the limits of their futures and the scars of their pasts as they enter middle age. Will the physical, emotional, and spiritual violations they have endured remain with them forever? Or can they be healed?
Spanning the years 1939 to 1946, this is the story of a defining era in one man's life and an exhilarating tribute to the entire generation that came of age during World War II. Quince's youthful adventures begin with his first sexual encounter, a night with a girl named Moomie in a one-room cabin in Virginia, and end with the 24-year-old veteran settling down to his postwar future. In between, he falls in and out of love with dozens of women, drinks and drugs his way through two years of college and four years of military service, travels the world, and meets a dazzling array of colorful characters.
When Thomas "Skinner" Galt leaves Greenwich Village to volunteer as an ambulance driver with the British Army, he anticipates the adventure of a lifetime. What he fails to understand is that no matter where he comes from or how many books he has read, once he dons a military uniform, his life will cease to be his own.