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 Fiction Review    

 

 

The Long-Range Plan
By Wade Tabor
Hazard Press Ltd., 2004
Softcover, $20.95 (425 pages)
ISBN: 1-877270-56-3
 
 
 

Told cleverly in flashback, The Long-Range Plan is a gripping story of the anti-hero who wants it all, deserves none of it, winds up with half of it, suspects it is the wrong half, but can never go back to find out.  

To say more in that vein would spoil the novelís delicious suspense, but be forewarned that the plot revolves around a love story and a caper that will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.    

As the curtain rises, the anti-hero, Cole Archer, is a first-year high school teacher in Charleston, S.C., who will soon fall in love with one of his students, Savannah Bellington, a bright, fetching, ambitious girl, 16, from the wrong side of a wealthy school district, a trailer park. From the day they meet, the stage is set for tragedy, but our protagonist, now 26, has been rehearsing for it a long time. Since the high-water mark of his young life--graduating from college with honors--he has been in a downward spiral of wasted days and wasted nights fueled by prodigious drinking and promiscuous sex.  

The latest consequence of that lifestyle, being dumped by a fiancť who wants a sober, faithful husband, not a boozing philanderer, has brought Archer to a new low--but to no new understanding of himself. Otherwise as smart as they come, he somehow missed out on the cause-and-effect connection between behavior and consequences, and goes right on making the same mistakes, mainly because he lacks a moral rudder. This is his fatal flaw. Fully aware, for instance, that a student-teacher affair in high school is The Big No-No, he does it anyhow. After all, self-indulgence is his speed, and the sooner, the better in all things. A frustrated writer, he hates the nine-to-five world and, though an excellent teacher, he despises the bureaucratic sinkhole that his school district has become. So when he sees a chance to take the money and run, well, what else could an anti-hero do? Indeed, quoted right up front in the novel is the maxim: ďNever underestimate the power of cash.Ē 

Archer does have redeeming qualities. He loves his cat, Brasco; he sympathizes with the weak; heís loyal to friends; heís grateful for favors; and heís squeamish about causing injury to others. Not squeamish enough not to do it, but squeamish nonetheless. But his chief redeeming quality is that we couldnít have this kind of story without this kind of character: a twenty-something man born to middle-class privilege in the Land of Opportunity who still canít win for losing--and has no idea why. The Long-Range Plan is a moral fable for modern times and is by a writer that readers are going to hear from a whole lot more.  

This is Taborís second novel. His first, Millerís Rules, self-published, won the Charleston City Paperís Platinum Pen Award. Tabor lives in Charleston with his wife and daughter, and is working on another novel. 

 

Robert Lamb
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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