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A little bit of word play in the opening sentence of Reynolds made me smile, chuckle to myself. It seemed incidental then but when I finished the novel, it seemed to contain the whole story. The title character is goofing around in his liquor store after closing. Ray Reynolds is listening to music, sliding around in his sock feet, and waiting for his lady friend, whose name is Joy.
Waiting for Joy.
Waiting for joy?
Turned out not to be that much joyful about Joy. Downright sad, really. Not much joy for Joy, or Reynolds, or for many of the other characters who experienced the beautifully rendered cycles of East Texas seasons with them. Too much waiting, not enough joy.
Reynolds' mom was waiting for leaf-raking to rise higher on her husband's priority list than it would on hers. To Edwina's credit, she finally stopped waiting. Unfortunately for her beautifully shaded back yard and the fortunes of at least one blue jay (and maybe Edwina herself), she didn't stop waiting soon enough for a half-measure or even a simple full measure to satisfy her need for action.
Reynold's dad stopped waiting too. Ray senior stopped waiting for the marital tension to resolve itself under the roof of the neglected old house, stopped waiting for his improbable gift to the world to drag itself from under a dusty tarp and finish inventing itself.
My guess is that Reynold's brother Perry is still waiting for Armageddon to come and promote him to his rightful stature among men. Despite an epiphany that pointed to action, I think Perry's wife Beth might still be waiting for her husband to share his inner life with her.
And Reynolds is still waiting for the right woman to walk through the door of his liquor store on a remote lake, instead of figuring out what he wants and going out to get it. We can see that; Reynolds can't.
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If you're looking for a great read, pick up HALEY, TEXAS 1959. Buy a copy for a friend. It might be the best money you spend all year. You won't be disappointed.
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