Leave Before You Go

Emily Perkins, Author Ecco $23 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-019661-5
Twentysomething angst over the opposite sex, career malaise and anxiety regarding overall life direction unite three young New Zealand natives and a mysterious English stranger in Perkins's dry-humored first novel (her collection of stories, Not Her Real Name, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for Fiction in Great Britain). Eager to leave London, art school dropout Daniel agrees to help a friend of a friend by trafficking heroin from Thailand to New Zealand. His inexperience and stupidity soon conspire against him and he resorts to two dangerous strategies--lying and stealing--to scrape by. Professional drifter Kate hates her latest job as an usher at an Auckland movie theater. She doesn't much care either for her aging hippie mother, Ginny, or her glamorous young sister, Nina, whose constant ego-puffing compels her to scheme vindictively against Kate and others who prefer not to worship at her self-erected shrine. Kate manages to find some solace with best friend Lucy, a social worker who seems happy with live-in lover Josh until he takes in a starving, desperate Daniel and gives him whatever he needs--money, food, a friend's empty apartment. It seems only natural that lonely and in limbo Daniel and Kate should meet. Perkins's fresh and clever narrative is propelled by effects like the zinging, one-liner dialogue between Kate and Lucy, and the Jaws music (dum dum dum dum) that follows Nina everywhere she goes. Picturing the travails and triumphs of her sexy cast on variously beckoning backdrops of sea, sky and home, Perkins crafts a sophisticated and compelling tale. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
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