Picks and Pans Review: Edisto Revisited
by Padgett Powell
Fifteen years after Simons Manigault left the beach at Edisto, he has returned to this fictional backwater on the South Carolina coast. His mother's expectations for him to be a writer—brilliantly captured in Powell's 1984 debut, Edisto—have diminished, but so has his drive in this meandering tale that's as much about avoiding responsibility as accepting it. "I don't have the big picture," he complains in Edisto Revisited. Neither does his first cousin Patricia Hod, but that hardly keeps the amorous sparks from flying between them.
This wisp of a story is another coming-of-age novel. Having cleared the hurdle of adolescence, Manigault is now facing the challenge of determining his identity. Looking for answers not to be found in bed with Hod, he hits the open road and the open bottle, tracking down his childhood mentor, Taurus, who encourages him to thumb his nose at ambition. Manigault returns to the beach, content to let life unfold rather than force its hand.
With this second go-round, Powell seems to be thumbing his nose at expectations that might have followed Edisto. Yet while the plot runs thin, his humor and sense of character once more prevail, deftly capturing that time of life when the pressure to be someone can be overwhelming. (Henry Holt, $25)
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