Escardy Gap

Peter Crowther, Author, James Lovegrove, With
Peter Crowther, Author, James Lovegrove, With Tor Books $26.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-86210-7
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 512 pages - 978-0-8125-5539-4
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Escardy Gap is an explicitly fictional small town created by a nameless Manhattan writer. It's comfortably entrenched in the Middle America in the 1950s. Enter Jeremiah Rackstraw and the Company, a mysterious troupe of sideshow performers cut from the same cloth as Ray Bradbury's Cooger and Dark Traveling Pandemonium Show and Charles Finney's Circus of Dr. Lao. The Company gains the trust of the locals but then embarks on a seemingly pointless orgy of murder and mayhem. Framing the spectacle of the town's demise is the story of Escardy Gap's creator, that nameless Manhattan writer, who is prepared to consign all his characters to hideous fates until their world intersects magically with his own and teaches him the esthetic benefits of the happy ending. The writer eventually learns not to treat plot as ""just a clumsy wooden instrument, an armature over which you can stretch your sentences."" Crowther (Heaven Sent) and Lovegrove (Hope) do not. They pad the story with underdeveloped subplots and extended descriptions of characters and their quirks that, although vivid and entertaining, make the novel seem exactly the sort of exercise in authorial self-indulgence that it purports to critique. The ending seems contrived solely to explain away the novel's meandering events, and will leave readers wishing the authors had found a better way to fulfill their intentions than to have their characters stand around talking about them. (Sept.)
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