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Table Money

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

New York City consumes a billion and a half gallons of water a day. It flows through tunnels blasted foot-by-foot through rock--the unenviable job of men known as sandhogs. Owney Morrison, a newly returned Vietnam hero, represents the fifth generation of his Irish-American family to have worked in these awful caverns.

In 1970, sandhogs are making up to $700 a week--but they earn every cent. The book is full of harrowing descriptions of deaths and maiming by explosives, cave-ins, and falls. The molelike labor and brushes with death take their psychological toll. Owney becomes addicted to alcohol, the sandhog’s occupational disease, and stays away from home.

Dolores Morrison, however, is not the traditional...

(The entire section is 228 words.)