We liked Jim Black's first novel, River Season, so much that we'd have been happy to hear about any new book he'd written. But we were especially happy that he chose to return to the same characters and the town of Archer City, TX for his follow up. The boys--Jim, Gary and Charles--are a couple years older now and more concerned with girls and such than they used to be, but they're still up to plotting elaborate hijinx and the sorts of youthful male bonding that placed the first so squarely in the tradition of Dandelion Wine. Both the romantic travails and the pranks provide some laugh out loud moments and the relationships are enjoyable and even moving at times.
This entry does lack the gravity that the Sam character provided last time around, the older black man who befriended the boys and taught them some important lessons. But the story acquires depth later on as we get to see how this idyll represents a time i life many of us will be familiar with, of last years with fast friends who we'll have trouble staying close to as life sends us on separate ways.
I remember after my last year in High School I opted not to go to Camp Sankaty Head so I could caddy with my two best friends. But then we had fairly minimal contact through college and for several years after. I was fortunate enough to grow close to them again later on in life and Jim Black (or the Jim Black character in the book at any rate) seems to have done the same. There's something peculiarly satisfying in such a roman a clef that manages to strike home in this way, something reassuring about the universality of the particular. It's a fine book and a worthy sequel to its even better predecessor.
Copyright 1998-2015 Orrin Judd