Not a Free Lunch

Helen Schulman, Author
Helen Schulman, Author Alfred A. Knopf $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-56166-0
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
The deadpan voice in which these 16 stories are told deepens the despair of their subject matter, each one speaking of unfulfilled need and unrequited search. It's a voice that takes for granted dope and booze and sleeping around, accepts the fact that, as one of the characters in ""Having Fun'' remarks: ``All the things that feel like sex . . . never end up sexy.'' A few very young adults are sitting around a pool shooting up, swimming nude, but the focus is on Jake, in love with his sister Amanda, who is ``having fun'' only because she has crashed completely. Longing intensifies in ``I Am Miss America,'' wherein a college student, crippled in a drunk-driving accident, wheels his chair into a bar and propositions dwarf-like Teensie who brutally rejects him. Then he knows for sure that any stature he achieves must be bestowed upon him by his giant of a father. ``Good Practice'' tells of jealousy and early loss, one girl yielding up her cousin, from whom she has been inseparable since childhood, to a boy with whom the cousin has fallen in love. Without men, the girl thinks, there would be no call to worry or weep. But it is the title story that brings it all together, sketching briefly and powerfully the art and tactic of growing up in a loving, understanding family but nonetheless giving in to peer pressure, complying with the mores of the time. This distingushed first collection introduces a writer of talent. (May)
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