The deadpan, downeast accents of rural Maine twang so authentically through the first chapter of this apologia pro sua vita that it is fair to expect action to stem from the combination variety store and diner where the narrator clerks. But no. Eventually taking form as a letter to a baby son, the novel explores the reasons for the writer's desertion of his family and moves backward to memories of his own father, a mailman doggedly walking his route and returning home to his real life as a craftsman in wood, oblivious to the discontent of a wife who has a more distinguished career in mind for her husband. Only death releases him. The writer, on the other hand, deserts his familyand the beloved little boybecause he cannot in any other way escape the machinations of a wealthy wife and her controlling father or slip out of the procrustean mold they have fashioned for him. The legacy he leaves his son is a letter to explain and replace himself. Filled with shining images that recreate the rivers and hills and skies of Maine, with insights into man's efforts to justify his existence, the letter is nonetheless self-indulgent, repeating itself a little too often and eventually, therefore, diminishing in impact. Bosworth wrote the well-received The Death of Descartes. February 14
Bosworth's first novel takes the form of a letter to an abandoned infant son. ``You won't be able to understand this now,'' the narrator explains, describing his empty marriage and the job where he ``pretended'' to earn a living. But mostly he talks about his own father, who chose to be mailman rather than an executive, who stuck it out with an un comprehending wife until his early death. The narrator's fondest memories are of falling asleep listening to his fa ther singing over his beloved wood working equipment in the basement. But ``I can't sing the way my father could.'' A luminous undemonstrative novel, winner of the 1986 Editors' Book Award for works neglected by commer cial publishers. Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.