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L.I.eby David Hollander
Synopses & Reviews
April 1985: Olympic Material
And then, Harlan continues, they put me in the four-by-eight, right after I'd run the quarter
The four-by-eight? his father asks.
Yeah. Four guys, we each run a half-mile. It's a relay.
Whenever something starts 'four-by, ' that means it's a relay.
They're sitting in the den; the television bathes them in a hypnotizing luminescence. His father is eating what would be Harlan's equivalent of breakfast. It's five P.M., but Dad works the night shift. He's only been up an hour.
So then what happened?
Well, I've really been running well lately, Harlan says. So they wanted me to anchor.
Anchor? His father takes a bite of a scrambled-egg sandwich. He looks at Harlan briefly, then back at sitcoms.
Yeah, Harlan says. That means to go last. The best guy goes last.
And they wanted you to go last? With affected pride.
Yeah. But you know, I was still tired from the other race.
Yeah, the quarter.
A breeze blows through the patio door. Beyond the chain-link fence that marks their territory, cars hurtle. Station Road is a place where kids drive fast. Harlan will start driving next year, and he imagines he'll follow local custom.
His father eats quickly, ravenously. He's listening to Harlan; that is, he wants to listen, but he keeps thinking about the time that Harlan came up to bat with two outs and runners on first and third in the bottom half of the last inning of the little-league championships. He belted a double into the gap in right-center. Was that so long ago? The team had lifted his son onto their shoulders. They'd paraded his boy around the diamond. And he'd called Harlan Mr Clutch. That's what they'll call you from now on, Harlan Mr. Clutch he'd screamed. He'd felt like a father, like it meant something to be a father.
He swallows up the rest of his sandwich. Harlan goes on.
. . . I wouldn't let him pass me though. Bobby Miller, the best half-miler in the state And I held him off
Wow. That's great, Son. That's terrific, Harlan. Maybe you'll be a track star.
Well, I don't know about that, he shrugs.
His father carries his plate and coffee cup into the kitchen. The water runs. Harlan doesn't know why he lied, but he knows that he had to. He knows it might not even be a lie. In his head it's very clear, it happened just like he said, he ran anchor, he held off Bobby Miller, it might have happened that way.
That night his father will unleash the story on a coworker. My son's a track star, you know. Best relay runner in the state, the whole damn state
And years later Harlan will dust it off, in a bar, for a woman who isn't going home with him. Sure, we've all got a few things that stick with us. Like my sub-two half-mile. I was a real speed demon back then, Olympic material. Why's that so hard to believe?
Ten interwoven episodes chronicle two years in the lives of Harlan Kessler and his family and friends as they deal with love, sex, death, betrayal, enlightenment, redemption, and growing up in the region of Suffolk County along the Long Island Expressway. A first novel. 25,000 first printing.
"In ten intimately interwoven stories," the author traces the life of Harlan Kessler who dreams of escape on the Long Island Expressway (L.I.E.) but believes that this journey is totally beyond him.--Jacket.
About the Author
David Hollander grew up in Suffolk County, Long Island. A graduate of the State University of New York at Purchase and the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Program, he lives in Brooklyn.
Table of Contents
April 1985: Olympic material — October 1987: Dog=God — May 1988: Gazebo — November 1988: Bad movie — December 1988: Song for Sarah — November 1989: L.I.E. — August 1985: Olympic reprise — Sunday dinner: A play in one act — March 1990: Infernal revenue — May 1990: The hitman's theme — Quoted.
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