Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Driving on the Rim-Thomas McGuane

Driving on the Rim
Thomas McGuane
Knopf, Oct 21 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9781400041558

In Montana, Dr. I. B. “Berl” Pickett blames his mother for all his woes as who names a baby in Big Sky Country after Irving “God Bless America” Berlin. When his friend Clarice fails at suicide, Berl conceals her attempt. However, later she dies from her injuries and he is suspended from practicing awaiting a review board look at negligence and potential criminal charges.

To pass time, Berl becomes a house painter, an occupation he did before he became a doctor. He also muses on his past as Irving Berlin’s non protégé and at fourteen when his aunt seduced him. Berl thinks of the doctor who mentored him and the two women in his life, Jocelyn the pilot who makes him want to soar and thoughtful Dr. Jinx who makes him look inside at his soul; however it is another woman who wants him dead for what he did.

Not for everyone as there is limited action and even that, for instance a stabbing, is quick and not very vivid. Instead Driving on the Rim is a strong reflective character study of a person who believes he is worthless in spite of several people who hold a contrary opinion about Berl. Readers who appreciate a profound look inside the heart and soul of a person will enjoy Driving on the Rim as Berl learns the true meaning of functional simple two-way and convoluted multi-way relationships.

Harriet Klausner

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