In the Heart of the Whole World

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Elegantly written, this funny, poignant gem of a book presents the first-person narrative of Ray Sykes, a Virginia high school teacher obsessed with one of his pupils, Sonia Pless. She is his daughter, though she doesn't know itthe product of his illicit union with a female student 15 years earlier. Proud, plucky Sonia is a malcontent, an almost-flunking pill-popper, a plagiarizer. Her mother and her step-father (whom she thinks is her real father) fight constantly. She joins a secret sex club and gets mixed up with a shady ``mall artist,'' a suburban Michelangelo who splashes her nude torso on the Whole World Mall's ceiling. Sykes wants to steer his daughter right, yet he's shacked-up with Lauranette, a local radio celeb much younger than himself, and his concern borders on voyeurism. Nothing is re solved at the bittersweet end of this troubling, utterly convincing novel by the author of The Great Dream From Heaven , but the main characters have grown wiser. Sykes's quest to connect with his runaway daughter is moving and haunting. (September)
Library Journal
In the heart of this novel is the plaintiveness of a train calling to the night. The longing of unrequited feelings. The obsession of misguided love. Gardiner (not to be confused with the better known John Gardner) spins a tale centered on an uncompromising northern Virginia schoolteacher, who won't let go of the willful daughter he fathered, but was never father to; and who holds tight, yet fruitlessly, against the hungry suburban sprawl that is eating up his past. In exposing one man's demons, Gardiner creates a dreaminess, and a strangeness, heightened by vivid contrastsa radio talk show strong on topical, and gossipy, items; fresh macadam engineered into a loping beltway; a gleaming shopping mall haloed with a Michelangelo-like ceiling. This is an abundant work that you'll want to read more than once. Michelle Lodge, New York City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394569017
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/12/1988
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 240

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