Jack Stephens, Author
Jack Stephens, Author Crown Publishers $18.95 (281p) ISBN 978-0-517-57539-0
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Stephens has chosen an aptly metaphoric title--it refers to the practice of discovering an unknown location by using two known coordinates--for his first novel, a densely populated, carefully calculated voyage into Thomas Pynchon territory. Prefacing his narrative with a lengthy list of characters, most of whom are unconnected with any of the others, the author sets up their lives, in and around Baltimore, and then puts into motion the bizarre coincidences which will bring them together. A driven epidemiologist specializing in AIDS, his low-risk girlfriend, a psychotic performance artist, a malformed woman who longs for a child and an astronomer are among Stephens's creations, initially linked only by the painfully arch names (Meander, Feldspar, Magellanic) they're been given. Though the author comes up with some virtuoso passages of triple narrative, alternating story lines sentence by sentence, the novel becomes a patience-straining enterprise in which the characters are no more than the sums of their names, their psychic or physical deformities (almost every one of them has one or the other) and the overly mechanical paces through which they are put. (Dec.)
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