South Jersey, circa 1983: A distinctive sub-region, as if a section of the south or Midwest was grafted onto the east coast. Francis, a defrocked college student who has made a mess of both his scholastic career and his life, finds himself back home at the Jersey shore and gainfully employed at a sprawling, subterranean gas station.
“Petroleum Transfer Engineer” is not just Francis’s story, but is also the chronicle of a time and place that is slowly disappearing: The farmland, little eateries, and raucous bars giving way to development; the resorts of Atlantic City morphing into its soulless casino incarnation. Francis must navigate a terrain that is simultaneously familiar and off-kilter. Somehow, he must struggle to piece his life back together.
Richard Klin lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. He is the author of “Something to Say: Thoughts on Art and Politics in America and Abstract Expressionism For Beginners.” He will be at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock, New York for a reading and signing on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.