Fiction Charles Abbott Island

ISBN 13: 9780060190507

Island

4.14 avg rating
( 14 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060190507: Island

A portrait of Fred Fay follows an outwardly successful but selfish man's descent into alcoholism and failure and his slow, difficult recovery into a wholly new and meaningful life.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Pseudonymous first novel by a ``prizewinning author of distinguished nonfiction'' who died in 1992: an earnest, absorbing, if occasionally awkward, tale that explores the nature of love and happiness as it traces the descent and recovery of an isolated urban drinker. The only son of a poor Episcopalian minister and his bitter, hypercritical wife, Frederick Fay grew up in 1930's Connecticut in a state of acute shyness and self-loathing. His skill at fleeing schoolyard bullies eventually led to a track scholarship to Princeton, where Fred was so dazzled by his wealthy, preppy classmates that he internalized every detail of their manner and dress. Winning a job at an N.Y.C. ad agency, Fred doggedly pursued his climb up the social ladder, taking time out for a job in the Air Force during WW II. Then, back in New York, Fred resumed his career, married socialite Julia Fanshawe, and moved into an apartment in Sutton Place. Soon, however, the stress of keeping up appearances--despite no real friends, a loveless marriage, and an inability to perform his job--led Fred to drinking. When, in quick succession, he was fired from his job, discovered his wife in bed with a woman friend, and lost Fran Collins, his passionate but lower-class lover, Fred drank himself into oblivion until a therapist gradually pulled him out of his depression. Now, fleeing to tiny Sheep Island off the New England coast, Fred constructs a home for himself as another form of therapy. Gradually forging a few honest connections with residents, he even takes a job as the local garbageman in his efforts to learn how life should truly be lived. Miraculously, his former lover returns to him. Thus all live happily ever after in what is less a credible work of a fiction than a working-out of what it means to be real. A Pinocchio story for grown-ups: mostly affecting, even if its workings do show. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In-depth character development distinguishes this gripping first novel of one man's harrowing, lifelong journey towards self-discovery. The pseudonymous author, a nonfiction writer who completed the manuscript before his death in 1992, shows no trace of inexperience with fiction in his polished narrative. He chronicles the climb of insecure, status-conscious Fred Fay from a Dickensian childhood to apparent success as a Princeton undergraduate in the 1930s, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, a WW II Air Force intelligence officer and a wealthy Manhattan socialite. In a series of reluctantly introspective sessions with his therapist, M. J. Hennerkop, Fay examines the superficiality of his achievements and the inevitability of his downfall through self-destructiveness and alcoholism. Fired, divorced, estranged from his friends and mistress, Fred grapples with his inability to give or receive love. Childhood memories resurface of an abandoned island near the small New England town of his birth. Against Hennerkop's advice, he leaves New York and purchases the island, intending to make it his home and refuge. The novel's second half recounts his experiences there and in the nearby town of Lincoln Harbor, where he will make a new life. Abbot writes evocatively of every phase in his memorable protagonist's odyssey. An improbably upbeat denouement proves disappointing but does not vitiate an otherwise convincing, insightful and eminently readable tale.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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