Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis first novel by Lea, poet and founder editor of New England Review , declares itself early on: ``My real story is of friendship and a place.'' The place is a rural spot in Maine called MacLean, also the name of the lake, its tributary river and the patronymic of the storyteller's best friend, Louis. The narrative drifts in the time between the '20s, when Brant Healey, the narrator, a young professor of French, first buys his summer cabin there, through more than 50 years' worth of vacations, to his retirement. A picaresque mix of anecdotes and vignettes build the story; fishing and hunting take up a lot of the characters' time and energy. Louis MacLean is messy, drinks, sings impromptu party songs and attracts misfortune. He lives in a shed, having chopped down the main house for firewood. ``Directness is hard to come by,'' writes Brant at one point, and his indirect approach, building up pictures of time, places and events in a seemingly scattered way, is hard to stay with. Although the book is sensitively written, with a lot of heart and warmth, these deliberately low- key tales haven't enough point to hook the reader's interest. (June)
Library Journal - Library JournalFishing, hunting, and the pleasures of outdoor life bring together a mismatched pair of friends: Brant Healey, a privileged Bostonian, and Louis McLean, a guide in the backwoods of Maine. With no family or close friends in Boston, Healey spends 40 years of vacations in a rustic, idyllic setting, employing McLean as caretaker of his summer cabin. McLean, a perplexing father and husband who is destined to bad luck, becomes the fishing and drinking buddy that many outdoorsmen would like to have. This first novel is a thoughtful, uplifting examination of a lifelong friendship and a tribute to the human spirit. It celebrates the beauty of rivers, lakes, and woods in an era before pollution and ecological disaster.-- Dean Willms, Fort Collins P.L., Col.
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