Passions of the Heart
Dig the bar scene! With the passing of the sixties, we find a society which, while sometimes extravagantly comic, is too often characterized by banality, greed, and duplicity. The climate of the republic seems to be one of political decline, moral decay, debauchery, and random violence . . . up to and including murder . . . while soldiers dwell on war. Travel to TOYLAND, resort of heart's desire, terminal of the American Dream.
At the beginning of the summer season in a resort town, the saloon known as Mitty's Adirondack Hotel is busy hustling custom. Hugh Fitzroy, proprietor, a juicer of note himself, presides. An unpopular war continues interminably in distant Southeast Asia.
Of a summer, many young girls pass through the bar. When the body of one of these is found by the side of the road, the police investigation leads to Mitty's. When Marco Rigo, a young Vietnam Veteran and small time marijuana dealer, is charged with murder, Fitzroy believes the police have the wrong person. In the face of his own admonitions to the contrary, he feels compelled to look into the case. He learns, among other things, it may be politically expedient to convict Rigo. After another girl is murdered, his quixotic attempt to take the law into his own hands results in the novel's explosive climax.
This syncretic novel also explores a young black man's relationship with white folk, and examines some aspects of the roots of racism in America. In developing this theme, the narrative temporarily shifts to the historical past, including a unique perspective on the cataclysmic Battle of Saratoga."
Toyland is a complex, multi-layered novel populated by a large cast of colorful, vividly drawn characters who speak in dialog that rings of authenticity. The atmosphere of a saloon, central to the story, is vividly conveyed, but this literary work is about an entire community. In examining the ethical matrix of the archetypal warrior-hero, the novel may raise more questions than provide answers.