Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Fiction

March 20, 1994|DICK RORABACK

ROBERT CREWS by Thomas Berger (William Morrow: $20; 256 pp.) Alone and palely loitering is Robert Crews, who finds himself on the unfamiliar shore of an unknown lake with nothing but the clothes on his back. The sport plane of Dick Spurgeon has crashed into the lake en route to a fishing weekend. Spurgeon and two others have gone down with the wreck. Only Crews has survived--Crews who was asked along by wealthy, supercilious Spurgeon only as comic relief; Crews, 39, thrice-married, a failure, a drunk; Crews, bailed out all his misspent life by a rich father; Crews who has never worked a day in his life.

No alcohol here, no food. No tools, no search parties, no landmarks; only forest primeval as far as Crews can see, and deer and beavers--and bears. How will Crews survive? Does he even want to? You can hear the whir as author Thomas Berger's imagination kicks in. This is grand stuff, man against nature, armed only with a three-pound brain.

The primitive in us resonates to Berger's chords as Crews, initially helpless, slowly reboots his innate animal cunning. He catches fish in his shirt, makes an ax from rock, fashions crude shoes from bark, acquires fire. In the wilderness, where no one knows he's a failure, or cares, he succeeds. Inevitably, as he grows to like himself, Crews finds a companion. Inevitably, she calls herself Friday. ("Robert Crews," eh?) Why she is there and what happens to them we will leave to Berger. A few loose ends, but a minimum of improbability in a novel that is atavistically satisfying.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|