Still Lives

Scott Sommer, Author
Scott Sommer, Author Viking Books $18.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-82581-3
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
The protagonist of this witty, twisted, occasionally precious comedy is Thom Frankle, 37, a photographer just fired from the erotic magazine Concupiscence. Frankle freelances and scrapes along on Manhattan's West Side in a comfy duplex that his ex-girlfriend Monica sues to wrest from him, having meanwhile kidnapped his cherished dog, Jack. For the gentle Frankle, given to pondering sacred texts in empty churches, ``to live faithfully'' is an appealing ideal. Yet he's surrounded by a crew of skewed postmodern crazies who booze (as Thom does) and dope too much, who flaunt guns, pollute the air and get rich on porn. Sommer skillfully depicts Thom as morally concerned but vulnerable, flawed and engaging--one of those ``Hamlet-complex guys,'' a friend says--who isn't self-righteous. To pay the rent, Thom finds an apartment sharer, Constance, with her small shy son Nick. The delicate hope of a sweeter life flowers for all three before the stark climax. Sommer, a pleasingly idiosyncratic talent, earned praise for his first three novels ( Hazzard's Head ) and story collection ( Lifetime ). (June)
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