The story of the Mustians that Price initiated in A Long and Happy Life is also the focus in A Generous Man, his second novel. The cast of characters is not identical, but enough of them overlap that readers of the first novel will have a sense of identity with the main characters in the second.
The action of A Generous Man takes place nine years before the action of A Long and Happy Life. Wesley Beavers is not a part of the narrative because Rosacoke, now only eleven years old, has not yet met him. Milo, married and a father in A Long and Happy Life, is a fifteen-year-old boy in A Generous Man.
The book revolves around an unlikely event that imposes a light, sometimes hilarious tone upon a story that deals with matters of enduring importance with universal meaning. As the story opens, Milo Mustian, fifteen, has just lost his virginity to Lois Provo—a girl who, significantly, works with the snake show at the Warren County fair. Milo, waking the next morning, finds that the family dog, Phillip, is sick. In typical southern fashion, the whole family must go with Phillip to the veterinarian, a drunkard who quickly misdiagnoses Phillip’s ailment as rabies, although Rato, the retarded son, later discovers it is only worms.
His dire diagnosis does not cause the doctor to confine or destroy the dog. Rather, he provides a muzzle, and Phillip goes off to the fair with the family....
(The entire section is 593 words.)