Bunny Modern

David Bowman, Author
David Bowman, Author Little Brown and Company $21.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-316-10281-0
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Our civilization is suddenly bereft of electric current. Skyscrapers are reduced to dark hulks; radios and TV sets go mute; the phone system becomes a useless cobweb strung out across a continent that plunges at every sunset into old-fashioned, gaslit gloom. That's the premise of this freewheeling second novel from Bowman (Let the Dog Drive), one of Granta's ""Best American Novelists Under 40."" In Bowman's near-future dystopia (circa 2017), appliances aren't all that's on the fritz; fertility (and love) are also in a sad state of disrepair. Apparently the old glow is gone, allegorically and for real. The few babies who are produced are rarities, tempting legions of babynappers, which in turn spawns an industry of violent, usually unloving nanny-bodyguards. The narrative follows the wooing of Clare--a sharpshooting nanny who experiences inexplicable flashes of tenderness for her latest charge--by a middle-aged former child star named Dylan. Although it never becomes clear what the electrical blackout has to do with the erotic brownout, Bowman almost makes up for this lack of causality with wonderful, rather Zen comic passages on Bob Dylan, fashion, Fred Astaire and what baby talk is really about. Even readers who feel that his provocations lack novelistic depth may admire Bowman for his millennial chutzpah. (Jan.)
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