Nebraska-native Wright Morris (1910-1998) won a National Book Award for A FIELD OF VISION and an American Book Award for PLAINSONG. Honored and esteemed by other writers for a large and diverse body of work, none of his writing ever caught on with many general readers. The 1977 FORK RIVER SPACE PROJECT was the 19th of his 20 published novels. It gets off to a promising start as a May-September couple on the Nebraska/Kansas border seek a handyman to deal with a clogged sink.
"Plumbers do not come cheap," but the plumber lives (in what turns out to be nearly a ghost town) with a house-painter (who used to write) who works for three dollars an hour. Dahlberg, the painter, establishes himself with the young(er) wife, as the husband bemusedly watches their relationship develop and investigates the strange depopulation of Fork River (the not-quite abandoned town in which 700 people formerly lived, until a tornado or something swept a dozen and a large amount of dirt away, leaving a crater that is guarded by the plumber, the painter, and one other resident).
The middle of the not-very-long novel drags, and the ending is disappointingly inconclusive. The wry, tolerant voice of the narrator glides through being usurped and the oddities of the isolated, haunted not-quite ghost town, making readers smile, but leaving them ultimately high and dry and, perhaps, wistful.
(The previous posted review is clearly not about this book.)