Playful… Sweet…. A novel with all the happy gloss of a romantic comedy.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Amick’s expertly crafted novel combines an unusual love story with an intriguing, atmospheric peek into the American graphic-art world in the 1940s.” —People
“Pitch-perfect. . . . Amick gives us something increasingly rare—a love story with heart.” —Associated Press
“A quirky, touching, and at times refreshingly masculine valentine. As [Amick] immerses us richly and authentically in an era essential to the formation of our national identity, he offers . . . a reminder, when we need it most, of why America remains a country with a vast potential for greatness.” —Julia Glass, author of Three Junes
Amick's solid follow-up to The Lake, the River & the Other Lake gives the reader a remarkable portrait of postwar America. When Wink Dutton is discharged from the army in 1944, he has little to his name besides his Purple Heart. His prospects change unexpectedly, however, when he meets Sal Chesterton, who has been running her family's camera shop while her husband serves in the Pacific. With business struggling, Sal comes up with a plan: she shoots sexy self-portraits and sells them to girlie magazines. As Sal and Wink's friendship develops, she lets him in on the venture, and the pinup business keeps them afloat and provides an easy segue to a complex romance after Sal's husband is killed in combat. The backdrop is captivating in its detail, and bold in scope: Sal and Wink's story plays out against wartime struggles, the Chicago underworld of the '40s and '50s, HUAC and the Red Scare and the postwar migration of Americans from the cities to the suburbs. This divine love story is as much about Sal and Wink as it is about America in that era-a great story, well told. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
World War II-era expressions and details about how Americans made it through tough economic times form an authentic backdrop for Amick's (The Lake, the River & the Other Lake) unusual story about how some amateurs get involved in creating risqué photos for early girlie magazines in 1940s Chicago. The tale centers on returning vet Wink Dutton, a former illustrator who injured his drawing hand in a freak shipboard accident, and Sal Chesterton, whose husband is serving in the Philippines. Together with Sal's friend Reenie, they earn much-needed cash by making photos that grow more and more revealing. The ingenuity involved in making these pictures generates much of this novel's charm; less interesting is the predictable romance between Sal and Wink. And Amick throws in a bit too much as the novel nears its end-the House Un-American Activities Committee, a local mafia, the Pulitzer Prize, and even Hugh Hefner. Overall, though, this is a satisfying slice of lesser-known Americana. Recommended.
Jimmy Stewart and Ann Sheridan might have been the protagonists of this goofy postwar romance, the successor to Michigan resident Amick's debut novel The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake (2005). The book is framed by a brief "Prologue" and "Epilogue," in which an elderly widow named Sal, en route to a nursing home, watches with amusement as family members stumble onto an arresting surprise stored in her attic. We're then treated to a leisurely, very funny account of the partnership formed by Sal, immediately following World War II, with her Army officer husband "Chesty" Chesterton's comrade Winton "Wink" Dutton, a promising cartoonist and illustrator (albeit burdened with a crippled right hand). Wink, discharged, has journeyed to Chicago to look in on Chesty's young wife Sal, who's trying to keep their family's business-a failing camera shop-alive. Upon renting a room from Sal, Wink learns she's been augmenting the family income by posing as a pinup girl-and, when Chesty's anticipated return home does not occur, the two join forces to create a thriving cottage industry. With the collusion of Sal's equally bosomy gal pal Reenie, they create visual delights for the pleasure of horny GIs everywhere, and everything seems swell-until the subject of an unauthorized photo brings trouble; censors harass the hapless "pornographers"; and the well-meaning innocents flee to Wink's hometown and the muted promise of a new life. The novel is fun throughout, if a tad redundant, and will remind many of the small-town fictional delights offered by Garrison Keillor and Eric Kraft. Amick has a gift for creating atmospheres that are both comic and oddly threatening, and he's adept at layering in niftyreferences to the period's pop culture. A charmer. Even the little old lady from Dubuque will like this one. Agent: Joe Veltre/Artists Literary Group