Bongwater

Michael Hornburg, Author
Michael Hornburg, Author Grove Press $17 (189p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1510-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8021-3456-1
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-8021-9958-4
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Set in coffee-cluttered Portland, Ore., and New York City's East Village, this first novel palpably vies for the honor of generational mouthpiece as it observes a handful of 20-something Americans looking for meaning, or at least for epiphanies--so they can talk about meaning. David, a not particularly committed filmmaker, narrates the Portland segments. He is a romantic, aimless fellow, and his scattershot affections land him in several beds. The New York sections, written in the third person, concern Courtney, David's former girlfriend. Her adventures include a move into an abandoned building, a visit from friend Jennifer and a dangerous party in Brooklyn. Back in Portland, while chasing the same Jennifer and falling in with a stripper named Mary, David remembers Courtney from time to time. But his memories rarely wax romantic: he dwells on the fact that Courtney let his house burn down before she left. In what must be the novel's central scene, David visits his childhood friend Phil, who grows pot in the mountains. On a naked dip in an edenic glen, possible meaning surfaces when Mary the stripper posits that ``a man who leaves his natural state lives with darkness forever.'' The novel has no dramatic conflict but, like its characters, is content to amble stylishly along without much sense of progress or satisfaction. (May)
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