Doin' the Box Step

Suzanne Falter-Barns, Author, Barns Suzanne Falter, Author
Suzanne Falter-Barns, Author, Barns Suzanne Falter, Author Random House (NY) $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-41427-8
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Hardcover - 978-0-517-13731-4
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When, after a six-year absence, 36-year-old Chelsea Cox goes back to the WASPish Philadelphia suburb where she grew up learning the box step (shorthand, apparently, for provincial backwardness), her mother isn't thrilled by the fiance she brings along. A Princeton grad and business success, Bennett is black. The hot questions raised during the visit: will sexy Chelsea marry the pompous, prudish Bennett just to prove a point? Will mother and daughter ever express their love? Can Peter, Chelsea's adolescent idol, settle down when women keep coming to him ``like mayflies who light on the glassy surface of a lake''? (He's so ``disturbingly magnetic . . . undeniably dangerous, and God, did that make him sexy.'') Falter-Barns crams her first novel with sketches of AIDS hysteria, alcoholism and hospital life as well as marital strife, suburban Christmas parties and rumor-mongering, but she dwells with more relish on predictable depictions of Peter's sexual prowess and Bennett's ludicrous attempts to fit in. As for Chelsea, by the time she gets down to the work she's meant to do, she has practically vanished under a mountain of cliches. Author tour. (Nov.)
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