Rolling the bones : a novel / by Kyle Jarrard.
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 July 2001
In Jarrard's second novel, following the well-received Over There (1997), multiple narrators tell a tale of lives intersecting in the forgotten towns of Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico. The four core characters are Carl and Venus Blalock, an unsuspecting couple, and Carl and May Stein, a traveling con man and his wife. The Blalocks take the Steins in as friends, give Carl a job, and fall in love to varying degrees themselves with his exuberant, lovely wife. Then May dies suddenly, Carl steals some money and disappears, and all are stunned and diminished. The three lose each other as they struggle to find their places in a newly altered world and converge again in a Louisiana casino amid a menagerie of those they have met along the way. Each has a story to tell, replete with the pain of loss and the exhilaration of starting over. A fast-paced, impressionistic character study with much to say about love, death, guilt, luck, and getting what one deserves. ((Reviewed July 2001))Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews
LJ Reviews 2001 July #1
Brooding and dark, this is a disturbing, complex novel by Jarrard (Over There) about a middle-aged married couple, Venus and Carl Blalock, whose lives are thrown into turmoil by a con man named Stein and his beautiful and unconventional wife, May. The Steins appears at the Blalocks' hardware store in Texas one morning, setting in motion a series of events that leads to catastrophe. At the center of the novel is the deeply intimate friendship that develops between Venus and May, which precipitates a crisis in the Blalock marriage. When May is accidentally drowned, Venus is inconsolable, and she sets out alone, plunging recklessly into a nightmare of alcohol and promiscuity. The remainder of the novel charts the Blalocks' arduous journey toward reconciliation. Although it has its share of weaknesses (particularly in terms of plotting and secondary characters), there is much to recommend in this novel, including skillfully drawn main characters. Of particular note is Jarrard's portrayal of Venus, which is richly and psychologically complex. Recommended for libraries with large fiction collections. Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 2001 August #4
A con man befriends a Texas couple and sends their life spinning out of control in Jarrard's second novel (after Over There), a lyrical, mystical suspense tale that begins when Carl Blalock meets a drifter named Carl Stein and ends up hiring him to work in his hardware and lumber store. The friendship between the two men is paralleled by a deeper bond between their attractive wives, and when Stein's spouse, May, drowns during a swimming outing, Blalock's wife, Venus, leaves him, realizing that she was really in love with May. That decision, along with Stein's move to rob his erstwhile friend of $7,000, sets off a chain of events in which Venus and Stein hit the road separately and inadvertently end up meeting in a Louisiana casino, while Blalock takes off for Mexico and begins a passionate, dreamy affair of his own. The motives of the various characters often seem dubious as the plot unfolds, but the quality of Jarrard's prose is high, and he depicts in convincing detail the complex interactions between characters, throwing in some occasional observations from those they encounter on the road. He also integrates the more surreal aspects of casino life into the passages in which Stein and Venus test one another, and he captures the hazy, disembodied feel of Carl Blalock's interlude in Mexico. The ending features a casino jackpot as well as an intriguing fate for the shifty yet strangely appealing Stein, but it is the beauty of the writing that carries the day and proves this a promising sophomore effort. (Sept. 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.