The Clarinet PolkaBook - 2002
The Clarinet Polka , the seventh novel in Keith Maillard's acclaimed Raysburg series, is a stunning portrait of Polish America and of one man's struggle to find the meaning in his life and roots. The year is 1969, the Vietnam War is raging, and Jimmy Koprowski has just finished a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force and returned home to the steel mills and smokey skies of Raysburg, West Virginia. Restless and unsure of what to do with his life, Jimmy drifts into a destructive, sexually addictive affair with Connie, a married woman, and his drinking begins to get the best of him. Meanwhile, his younger sister has started an all-girl polka band, and through the band he meets Janice, a talented young clarinetist whose life is haunted by tragic events that took place in wartime Poland before she was born. Before long, Jimmy finds himself torn between these two women and forced to confront the biggest problem in his life: himself.
Maillard's rich narrative is about the psychological and physical ravages of war that are passed on through the generations and about the healing powers of language, music, and tradition. This pitch-perfect portrait of working-class Polish America is a funny yet serious tale of lust and love, despair and redemption.