Set in the small Mississippi town of Libertyburg, this quiet, richly evocative first novel follows the closely knit families of borthers Fred and Chester Bloomer and their wives, Winnie and Virginia, from 1942 until 1987. Chester's movie camera, purchased in 1942, begins to capture important family events, and the author's lyrical prose casts a spell over these milestones: the 1945 victory parade in downtown Libertyburg; a neighborhood costume party, with Virginia wearing a suggestive grass skirt; a family Christmas; vacations; and a wedding. But what is happening behind the masks of the participants? Sloan deftly delineates the concealed frustrations, rage and jealousy that lead to an affair between Virginia and Fred, and to Fred's mounting depression. Somehow the camera is lost by Fred's daughter (in an unintegrated yet electric episode) and Chester unwittingly misplaces the canister in which the movies are stored. When the film turns up 20 years later, faded, brittle, and shadowy, Chester gives it to his son-in-law, a Hollywood film editor, to restore, and plans are made to show it at the next family reunion. As the layers of deception are peeled away slowly, each family member must make a compromise with the past. This is a delicate, finely wrought effort. (Mar.)
Built around the existence of 20 years of home movies, this first novel explores the lives of brothers Fred and Chester Bloomer in small-town Mississippi from the end of World War II through the mid-Sixties. Older brother Chester and his bulky movie camera record family gatherings, while handsome, half-crazy Fred and Chester's bored wife Virginia evolve into secret lovers. Episodic chapters rich with period detail probe and expand upon the surface imagery of Chester's grainy black-and-white and faded color movies. After Fred's suicide, Chester hides the home movies so he won't have to think about his brother. In the late 1980s, Fred's daughter Sheridan searches reels of disintegrating celluloid looking for her father. Despite some clumsily written dialog and forced plot situations, this short tale proves itself both worth the telling and the reading.-- James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Spanning the period from World War II to the late 1980s, Sloan's debut novel traces events in the lives of two brothers' families in a small town near Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)