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Boyle has been developing a growing reputation among lovers of rich comic writing for his handful of previous stories and novels. But World's End is one of those dramatic leaps forward that show an accomplished writer ambitiously and successfully lengthening his stride. It could easily be called a multigenerational saga, but that would give no idea of the depth of social and historical perspective Boyle brings to his tale. Set in the spectacular Hudson Valley country, an hour north of New York, World's End has all the elements of magic, fable, legend, and a sense of weather and landscape one more often finds in Southern writers. But it also shows a remarkable grasp of the continuity of culture over more than 300 years, effortlessly linking the stories of early Dutch settlers in the valley, the Indians they displaced and their descendants in the McCarthyite late 1940s and wild 1960s. The story, which moves with exceptional and convincing ease across the generations, is of the linked fates of the Van Brunt and Van Wart families. These have come down in modern times to Walter Van Brunt, a dreamer addled by drink and dope who loses both feet in motorbike accidents and who is haunted by figures and voices from the past, and Depeyster Van Wart, deeply conservative manufacturer and landowner, hanging on desperately to ancestral memories in a world he despises. Boyle is totally attuned to changing mores over the centuries, and broad enough in his sympathies to identify with the best in both conservative and rebel. Many of the book's central issues of loyalties and betrayal come to a head in a e riveting passage built on the Peekskill riots of 1949, in which leftists trying to attend a concert at which Paul Robeson was to sing were attacked by embittered locals inflamed by the presence of ``niggers and kikes.'' Boyle, a native of the area, is so deeply steeped in its history that he can absorb a real incident and transform it organically into a horrifying episode in a novel. World's End is a triumph; resonant, richly imagined and written with unfailing eloquence. BOMC Alternate. (October 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Encompassing 300 years of Hudson River Valley history, Boyle's new novel revolves around young Walter Van Brunt's search for his long-lost father, Truman, who betrayed friends and family alike in the Peterskill Riots of 1949. World's End is a wild, overarching saga of class warfare and duplicity, a vision of the present ``impaled on the past.'' But it's a vision more engaging in outline than in detail. Boyle treats these burghers and yeomen with such disdain that we know exactly how poor Walter feels to find himself abandoned at a party ``full of drunken, grinning, suspicious, long-toothed, dog-faced, silly-ass strangers.'' A queasy complement to Boyle's first historical novel, Water Music ( LJ 11/15/81), recommended for larger collections. Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The sins of the fathers along with physical afflictions and other worries are visited on their children as one generation relives in contemporary terms the experiences of the past. Boyle's novel partly a historical tale and partly a modern-day re-creation of the same story switches from past to near present and mixes seventeenth-century Dutch settlers and their landlords with hippie motorcyclists and Indians intent on reclaiming their territory in the Hudson River valley. Wrapped into this narrative are the themes of betrayal and death, along with a darkly engaging sense of humor that lightens the book's seriousness. Boyle is also the author of Greasy Lake & Other Stories (Booklist 81:1098 Ap 1 85). JB. [OCLC] 87-40023