by Julie HaleJuly, 2007
The End of California
Yarbrough's fourth novel is set in familiar territory the town of Loring, Mississippi, where two of his previous books, Visible Spirits and Prisoners of War, take place. While those novels works of historical fiction were set solidly in the past, his latest narrative is a modern tale of marriage and family. Pete Barrington, the protagonist, is a Loring native who left the South for California, where he attended medical school and raised a family. When a controversial scandal causes him to return to Mississippi 25 years later, the move home turns out to be a life-altering one in ways Pete never expected. Along with Angela, his wife, and their teenage daughter, Toni, Pete embarks on a new life in Loring, opening his own medical practice. But he soon crosses paths with Alan Depoyster, an old acquaintance, who hasn't forgotten a grievance dating back to their teenage years. The incident is hard to dismiss: Alan's mother had an affair with Pete, which led to the break-up of the Depoyster family. Pete's past comes back to haunt him, as he and Angela experience their own marital problems, and Alan decides to exact revenge. Yarbrough, who was born in Mississippi and now teaches creative writing in California, has an ear for dialogue and a gift for conjuring up memorable characters. In The End of California, he offers a tense, atmospheric narrative that captures the friction of marriage, as well as the hardships involved in homecoming.