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While there is still time,
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
The Mulvaneys are well-off, secure, Mike Mulvaney is a proud man, raised in poverty he works hard, builds up his own roofing business; his wife Corinne is large-hearted, resourceful, loving. They live out of town in a rambling, forty acre farm. The children have horses, ponies, dogs, cats, there are goats, there are cows, and it is a kind of wonderful refuge from the politics of the time - from Vietnam, from the ugliness of city and suburb. They are good people, living the good life, struggling sometimes but respected and liked in their small community, until one terrible act tears the family apart.
There is retribution, but the cost has to be paid by everyone involved. Only their goodness, their ordinary worth, shines through. This may sound like the grossest sentimentality, but there is room for a view that goodness exists and Joyce Carol Oates makes it seem perverse to deny that it can. They are not some kind of automatons after all, nor painted as something unique and especially wonderful. They do ordinary things, they lie to each other continually, they do not communicate what they feel, they behave badly, often. But they struggle always not to hurt too much the people they love. They have a rough, honourable kindness about them, even the father whose fate is the worst that can be imagined. I was reminded of lines in Philip Larkin's poem, The Mower:
We should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
The ending - one of the best and most gratifying I can recall reading - is beautiful.