The Green Suit
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The Sackriders are a well-to-do Kentucky family. They are well-bred, reserved, intelligent, affluent. The mother is a neighborhood legend. The father is a highly regarded judge. And the children, well, the children are real disappointments.
By the time the book's almost over, the daughter has slept her way across the United States to the West Coast where she's having a nervous breakdown.
And the son, Peter, whose story The Green Suit mostly is, kind of wants to be a writer, or an editor, maybe. He's not really sure. After college, he does what wistful English majors do: he goes to New York and gets a little job in a publishing house. He falls in love with one bright, up-and-coming young woman after the other, all of whom charge ahead impatiently, leaving him to choke on their dust.
Peter looks to traditional mentors — his father, the judge; a favorite teacher; two New York editor bosses — and to less likely ones, including the Sackriders' longtime maid and the man with the green suit. He tries to engage. But somehow, he can't seem to bite down and break off anything solid to chew. Until his sister, having her nervous breakdown, lets him know she needs him.
Dwight Allen's brilliant first book is about love and betrayal, about a family splintering but not quite falling apart, about a brother and sister who exasperate and venerate one another as only a brother and sister can. Its message is one about he perils of self-absorption and noncommitment. And its moral? How good it feels to tunnel out to the light and connect.
his first shot had hit the pig in the shoulder. “If I’d been that pig,” Alex said, “I would’ve looked at you. I would’ve wanted you to feel all my dying pig thoughts.” She stared at Mac. “Yeah,” Mac said, turning away. Alex reached over and pressed the sunburned flesh above his knee with her thumb. “You’re going to fry, if you don’t watch it.” My father reeled in his jig, and proposed that we move toward the end of the lake that lay in shade. We scooted across the water, stirring up a
Willborn’s Fourth of July party the following day—a party at which everybody in the neighborhood, both the sober and the intoxicated, would put his hand over his heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “I can’t imagine where it went to,” my mother said. She was scowling, racking her brain. In her view, it seemed, inanimate objects had legs; they ran off, leaving her bereft. “Shouldn’t you be resting your leg?” Willie said. “I bought that hat at a drugstore down in Biloxi,” my mother said,
put a suntanned arm on the Colonel’s shoulder and said, “A Carter quarter, eh, Colonel? Give the pump boy one of these for a dollar’s worth of gas and he’ll ask for three more.” Out in the yard, I saw two small boys circling a hackberry, knocking on the trunk with sticks, as if the tree contained a secret that it was bound to yield. Then a firecracker went off, and the boys sprinted toward the back of the house, as if summoned. I looked at Mary Lee, who was talking to Mrs. Willborn at the other
ice and mint. “Then you need to go.” Martha was standing on the other side of the grill, holding Louis’s hand. She could see Larry—the parts of him that weren’t submerged in the hammock, anyway. “That’s not very generous of you, Peter Sackrider,” Larry said, looking up from inspecting the mug’s contents. “After the good time we had yesterday watching that fuck flick and drinking and talking that serious man talk.” Larry raised his voice as he saw that he had an audience besides me and Martha.
in a couple weeks.” She stands on the porch step in her silver dress, looking no more pregnant than a bud vase, while I hunt in my purse for my key. I locked up when I went out this morning. “What kind you want?” I ask. “Boy or girl?” “The kind that sleeps through the night and doesn’t cry a lot.” “One of those imaginary babies?” When I open the door, I feel the dark lean into me and put its hot breath on my neck. And then I notice that there’s no light falling down the staircase, not a