Something is wrong with Eddie Hobson Sr., father of four, sometime history teacher, quiz master, black humorist and virtuoso invalid. His recurring fainting spells have worsened, and with his ingrained aversion to doctors, his worried family tries to discover the nature of his sickness. Meanwhile, in private, Eddie puts the finishing touches on a secret project he calls Hobbstown, a place that he promises will save him, the world and everything that's in it.
A dazzling novel of compassion and imagination, Prisoner's Dilemma is a story of the power of invalid experience.
Eddie Hobson Sr. is paterfamilias personified. A retired history teacher in DeKalb, Ill., he has raised his childrenArtie, Lily, Rachel and Eddie Jr.by talking to them in riddles and plaguing them with questions and tests. After a lifetime of being ruled by this petty tyrant, the now-grown children find it almost impossible, and painfully distressing, to concede that Pop might be really ill. But the virtuoso invalid and black comedian keeps passing out, and it seems the family must accept the inevitable. Artie, who worships the old man while hating him, describes his father's slow decline, interspersing his account with childhood memories and details of the mysterious dictaphone recordings that Pop has been making in private for so long. The recordings that Artie listens to secretly at last reveal the father to the son. Skillfully alternating lively colloquial dialogue with Artie's fluid, elegiac recollections, Powers, author of the praised Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance brings each member of the family to vivid, quirky life in this accomplished narrative. (March)