Wickford Point Punctures Literary Windbags

Jim Calder is a writer. He knows his craft and he knows he’s only a craftsman. Art is not for him, nor are pretensions.

Jim’s Wickford Point cousins, with whom he makes his home, regard his work-for-food attitude with disdain.

Descended from John Brill, “The Sage of Wickford,” the cousins are willing to live off the family’s past literary greatness (minor as it was) with cheerful disregard for details like paying the grocer’s bill.  Jim is a convenient source of cash, the reliable guy the family counts on to put gas in the car.

An acquaintance of Jim’s from Harvard, Allen Southby, wants to write a book about Wickford Point. Southby is a talentless, literary stuffed shirt. He fits right in with the Brill mélange.

Jim thinks it’s time for him to leave Wickford Point, but when his girl friend suggests marriage, he hesitates.

John P. Marquand’s characters really are characters: eccentrics one and all. Marquand ridicules the ridiculous in them, but treads softly on their human frailties.

Wickford Point is marvelously funny — something between Cold Comfort Farm and The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs. But it’s also sweetly sad.

Blood is thicker than water, Marquand reminds readers.

Be it ever so absurd, there’s no place like home.

Wickford Point
By John P. Marquand
Little, Brown 1939
458 pages
1939 bestseller # 4
My Grade: B+

© 2009  Linda Gorton Aragoni