The Sackriders are a well-to-do Kentucky family. They are well-bred, reserved, intelligent, affluent. The mother is a neighborhood legend. The father is a highly regarded judge. And the children, well, the children are real disappointments.
By the time the book's almost over, the daughter has slept her way across the United States to the West Coast where she's having a nervous breakdown.
And the son, Peter, whose story The Green Suit mostly is, kind of wants to be a writer, or an editor, maybe. He's not really sure. After college, he does what wistful English majors do: he goes to New York and gets a little job in a publishing house. He falls in love with one bright, up-and-coming young woman after the other, all of whom charge ahead impatiently, leaving him to choke on their dust.
Peter looks to traditional mentors — his father, the judge; a favorite teacher; two New York editor bosses — and to less likely ones, including the Sackriders' longtime maid and the man with the green suit. He tries to engage. But somehow, he can't seem to bite down and break off anything solid to chew. Until his sister, having her nervous breakdown, lets him know she needs him.
Dwight Allen's brilliant first book is about love and betrayal, about a family splintering but not quite falling apart, about a brother and sister who exasperate and venerate one another as only a brother and sister can. Its message is one about he perils of self-absorption and noncommitment. And its moral? How good it feels to tunnel out to the light and connect.