Bay of Arrows

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jay Parini is an accomplished poet and novelist. His previous novel, THE LAST STATION (1990), was a touching account of Leo Tolstoy’s last year. In BAY OF ARROWS, Parini integrates the historical with a contemporary story. Christopher Genovese — known as Geno — is an English professor and poet who has become dissatisfied with his life and struggles to find meaning in his daily routine. His wife finds Geno to be distant and somewhat detached from family activities. In his early forties, Geno has lost his focus for the responsibilities which define his identity. He wants to finish the epic poem on Columbus that he has been wrestling with for years. As Geno’s life sinks ever more into disarray, Parini splices in chapters that introduce the reader to the historical figure of Columbus.

The low point for Geno comes when he seduces one of his female students. Not only must he come to terms with the act, but also he must put up a defense in order to save his job, since the student is angered after receiving merely a B+ for her final paper. This becomes all too much for Geno to handle. His wife and two young sons can no longer trust Geno, although they are more than willing to give him a second chance, if he would only come to his senses.

Geno is rescued from himself and his circumstances when he receives notice that he has been awarded a MacAlastair Foundation grant of $542,000. The grant is tax-free and to be used as he sees fit. He resigns...

(The entire section is 434 words.)