Matricide

Carla Tomaso, Author
Carla Tomaso, Author Plume Books $9.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-452-27111-1
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The unnamed narrator of Matricide is not happy. A high school English teacher and author of one bad novel, she tends to her ex-lover's cats and longs to fall in love. With friend and principal Doris and recent ex-student Tina, she drives to Taos for a women writers' conference. There she meets 60-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winner Blaire Bennett, who appears naked in her room and announces, ``I am not a nice person.'' The narrator has had plenty of experience with people who are not nice, beginning with her beautiful, competitive mother. These relationships grow, revealing secrets: Doris's drinking, Tina's ambivalent coming-out, the matricide of the title and even darker conflicts and betrayals. At once entertaining and wounding, Tomaso (The House of Real Love) deftly builds her characters and their concerns. What might have been insipid and bitter-the worst intersection of Jane DeLynn's Don Juan in the Village and Diane Salvatore's Love, Zena Beth-is instead funny, moving and horrifying. The narrator's bravado and cynicism are tempered by bursts of romanticism, creating a tension that reveals her vulnerability and humanity. The characters' embarrassing poetry aside, the writing is lucid and deceptively simple. Matricide is a coming-of-age-story, one whose parameters are not years of experience, but memory. (Nov.)
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