Terry Walker is an even-tempered, successful mathematics professor, comfortable with his world -- the order and predictability of it. He likes the kind of life one lives in a quiet Salt Lake City subdivision. At his children's births, he masks his terror with numbers -- his wife's contractions and dilations, blood pressure, heart rate. At funerals he absorbs his grief by calculating the cubic feet of earth the coffin and vault will displace. But control is illusive, a fact his fifteen-year-old son, Blake, never lets him forget. A sensitive boy, Blake has refused to eat meat since the time he could walk. Fearing he will hurt his friends' feelings, Blake withdraws from a spelling bee that he could easily win. More importantly, however, Blake harbors a secret that he keeps from Terry. Driving this important first novel are issues and characters Thomas Mann himself would have found compelling. Terry Walker's inability to accept what he knows and does not know about his child, what he possibly could never accept, exacts a high price. At the threshold of insanity, the father wages war against a powerful chaos. Van Wagoner takes his readers beyond a simple foretelling to beneath the story's skin, to a place familiar and irresistible.
(1999) Terry and Rayne Walker attempt to come to terms with the shattering effects of their 15-year-old son's suicide.