Disobedience

Michael Drinkard

University of California Press 1996
A book review by Danny Yee © 1996 http://dannyreviews.com/
Disobedience is a three-stranded novel wrapped around the history of California: in the near-present, Franklin, a go-getter climbing the corporate ladder, meets Mavy, a hippie who will make him a most unsuitable wife; in the near-future, Franklin's adolescent son Aaron comes to terms with his sexuality and his suspicion that his father murdered his mother; and, at the end of the nineteenth century, Mavy's great-grandmother Eliza plants the first navel oranges in southern California while she and her husband Luther desperately try to get a child. This threaded structure works remarkably well, providing a propulsive force which carries the reader forward without uncomfortable jerks.

Drinkard carries everything else off successfully as well: the minor science fiction elements; the depiction of the land, with its mud-slides and fires and droughts; the diverse set of characters; and even the occasional insertion of notes about the orange industry. He (respectfully) strips birth and death of some of their mystique, and finds something fresh to say about those other grand life-cycle themes, coming of age and marriage. Disobedience is a warm, funny novel which verges at times on farce and at others on tragedy: a fine volume to launch a new "California Fiction" series.

November 1996

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%T Disobedience
%A Drinkard, Michael
%I University of California Press
%D 1996
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0520206835
%P 349pp