A Taxonomy of Barnacles

Galt Niederhoffer, Author
Galt Niederhoffer, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-312-33483-3
Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Paperback - 367 pages - 978-0-312-42651-4
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4668-6089-6
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In Niederhoffer's arch, alliterative debut, Bell, Bridget, Beth, Belinda, Beryl and Benita Barnacle, ranging in age from 10 to 29, plunge headlong into the competition their father, Barry Barnacle (né Baranski), dictates at the family's annual Passover seder on the Upper East Side. "Whoever can figure out a way to immortalize the Barnacle name will be named the sole beneficiary of my estate," declares the patriarch, who made his fortune as New York's "Pantyhose Prince," formed a worldview according to social Darwinism, but produced no male heirs. Twenty-nine-year-old Bell may lock down the contest by announcing her pregnancy. But 10-year-old Benita, daddy's little girl, sets out to immortalize her family name through infamy, not progeny. Rebellious 16-year-old Belinda, who shares "her sisters' wildness but none of their savvy," pursues a questionable liaison with a pierced, acne-prone suitor, while Beryl, an artistic 13-year-old, apparently doesn't deign to compete. The real game, though, is between Bell and 26-year-old Bridget (the prettiest and most extroverted sister) who angle for the affections of their handsome neighbors, identical twins Billy and Blaine Finch. This zany 1930s-style romantic comedy, titled after Darwin's monograph on the arthropods he studied before finches, makes for a lighthearted literary lark. Agent, Joy Harris. (Jan.)

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