Spartina (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Spartina is John Casey’s third book, following the novel An American Romance (1977) and Testimony and Demeanor (1979), a collection comprising four stories. A dark-horse winner of the 1989 National Book Award for fiction, Spartina has been described by Casey as the first book in a projected trilogy set in Rhode Island.
Dick Pierce, the protagonist of Spartina, reminds one—superficially at least—of Mac in An American Romance. Both are ruggedly individualistic men wholly out of step with their times and their societies. Mac, the Canadian northwoodsman, however, is manipulated shamefully by Anya, the clever, sophisticated theater director whose only aim in life is to experience all of it even if doing so leaves other people’s lives in shambles. An American Romance’s resolution takes place in Iowa, a third of a continent away from the Rhode Island setting of Casey’s new novel.
In some ways, Dick Pierce is threatened with being the last of his line. Granted, he has two sons, Tom and Charlie, to carry on the family name, as well as another child secreted away in Elsie Buttrick’s accommodating womb, unbeknown for a while to his wife and sons. Elsie, Dick’s neighbor, is the local game warden; she comes into Dick’s life in an official capacity when she tries to enforce the law against poaching clams, one of Dick’s avocations, in the salt marshes of a bird sanctuary near...
(The entire section is 1894 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
The Chronicle of Higher Education. XXXVI, January 31, 1990, p. A3.
Library Journal. CXIV, June 1, 1989, p. 144.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, June 25, 1989, p. 7.
Newsweek CXIV, December 25, 1989, p. 75.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXV, April 21, 1989, p. 79.
Time. CXXXIV, July 17, 1989, p. 84.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, June 4, 1989, p. 3.
(The entire section is 44 words.)