Half-Moon Scar

Allison Green, Author
Allison Green, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-26170-2
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-312-28253-0
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The childhood events that shape our lives inspire Green's competent if thin first novel. Amy, a tenured lesbian professor of political science in Seattle with a lover pressuring her for a commitment, returns to her hometown in Iowa to regroup. She finds that little has changed. While the town of Willow Bay has sprouted new housing developments and her parents have redecorated, the emotional landscape is much the same as that of her childhood. Her sense of stasis is at once confirmed and shaken when she visits her teenage crush, Gina, still a distant tomboy. A new development is Gina's roommate, Gavin, who has returned to Willow Bay after a long absence. Gavin, for whom Amy used to shoplift lipstick, has changed in one significant way: he is terrifyingly thin. Amy's research in the university library reveals that anorexia in men is associated with troubled sexual identities: Gavin is sick because he's gay. The sexual nature of his problem is emphasized when everyone who sees him initially thinks he is suffering from AIDS. Similarly, Amy has a habit of cutting herself in moments of crisis. The self-mutilation is rooted in her lesbianism: she is ashamed of her feelings, and bleeding somehow lets the shame out. Gavin and Amy's responses to their homosexuality are extreme, and their motivations remain oddly uncomplicated. It is no coincidence that their self-destructive tendencies are expressed in behavior commonly associated with teenagers: unlike their present and past lovers, they have not grown into their sexual identities, though it is not clear why they are so immature. In a terse prose style, Green offers a story of growing up, of the perils of desire and of the exorcism of childhood woes. (Aug.)
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