Well-read, intelligent, skeptical but not cynical, Hank Worthington at the end of middle age is an entertaining and at times engaging narrator, viewing the events of his life and times with the same ironic detachment and informed objectivity that have ensured his success as a “healer” of ailing business firms. Indulging in a mannered literary style that harks back to his earlier possible vocation, Hank clearly seems to be enjoying himself as he recalls his grandfather’s checkered career, or his sexual initiation at the hands of a married woman, a neighbor and distant cousin some fifteen years his senior. Also illuminating are his considered recollections of deskbound but mobile military service during World War II, ranging outward to contemplate the war in general, and his observations with regard to the postwar business world.
Hank’s grandfather Dodd, although drawn perilously close to caricature, provides a generally credible object lesson both in the abuses of learning and in the perils of inbreeding both literal and figurative, perils that Hank himself appears to have escaped. “Cubby’s” bizarre yet still mediocre career stands as proof that breeding is no guarantor of personal quality, nor learning (even when inherited) of professional excellence. Hank’s own father, soon banished to the sidelines by dint of his early death, fares hardly better than “Cubby” when subjected to Hank’s scrutiny, implicitly deemed a failure despite his rather...
(The entire section is 604 words.)