by Eve La Salle Caram

Plain View Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-935-51420-6.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 10/08/2010

Fiction: Mainstream

This trio of novels or novellas explores the lives of three members of a Texas/Louisiana family, each from the perspective of different members. Elizabeth writes the first and longest as a letter to her home town of Corpus Christi, recalling her younger years in the Depression as she moves from city to city writing radio dramas. The second, narrated by Rena, Elizabeth's aunt-by-marriage, fills in blanks, creating a rich tapestry. Finally, written in the third person, is the story of a mature Elizabeth's search for Rena's long lost brother, Johnny.

The older Rena's return to Corpus Christi has subtle touches of humor throughout. Rena decides to fish off the sea wall "for ole time's sake," and muses from there. In my mind, she could have been sitting on the edge of a cloud—already in the next life looking down at the action, which flows from sweet to the edge of violent. In fact, she does go on to recall that she died or would die not too long after. This in no way disrupts the story. It enriches it.

In an attempt to weave the threads together, Caram stretches coincidence in Looking for Johnny—yet creates a tale that one would want to believe. Life can be strange, so why not? Elizabeth remains the main character throughout; however, Aunt Rena is the rock, even a philosopher. "When I first came, Corpus Christi was only a few thousand people and seemed the sweetest little town sitting there on its bay so quietly. Well, now it's like everywhere. Oh, honey, the world is overbuilt and close to breaking." Elizabeth is serious. Aunt Rena is outlandish while continuing to be steady for Elizabeth. as well as Rena's nephew Searcy. Rena creates family for both of them.

Trio is well written and satisfying. Three cheers for Trio.

Eve La Salle Caram is the author of 5 novels. She has taught literature and writing in California and is working on fiction inspired by a recent trip to Italy. Read more about her books here.

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