Picks and Pans Review: The Ink Truck

updated 10/15/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by William Kennedy

Since Kennedy won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for Ironweed, the last volume of his astonishing Albany trilogy, his publisher has wisely decided to revive this earlier work—to everyone's benefit. This is Kennedy's first novel, published to almost no notice in 1969. Its protagonist, Bailey, is a columnist on strike against a newspaper in Albany. Despite everything he and his friend Rosenthal can do, the paper continues to publish. Then Bailey gets the idea that he could bring the newspaper to a halt by intercepting the truck that delivers its printing ink. Bailey is a loud Irish sot who lives with a tough ex-roller derby queen, though he has designs on Irma, a fellow striker who wants to give up the fight and marry an undertaker. The Ink Truck is wildly funny, rich and full of lyrical moments. Bailey is no less obsessed with his ink truck than was Ahab with Moby Dick. Kennedy understands that "partners in failure have a bond unknown to winners." (Viking, $15.95)

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