Loop's End

Chuck Rosenthal, Author Gibbs Smith Publishers $21.95 (330p) ISBN 978-0-87905-478-6
Garbage collector Jarvis Loop of Erie, Pa., who philosophized about life in the Loop's Progress and Experiments with Life and Deaf , is back in this uneven mix of folksy naturalism, absurdist black comedy, family drama and magical realism. Set in the late '60s, this novel, like its predecessors, presents a gallery of irascible eccentrics. Grandpa Funster, who spouts mystical gibberish, shoots a cop named Liverwurst in the back; young Funly Funster, stuck inside a tuba, becomes a supermarket attraction; Visitor, Jarvis's son, calls everyone Dad, including their dog, Polly Doggerel; Neta, Jarvis's 300-pound genius sister, delivers pseudoprofundities as banal as his own. Two elements in this string of misadventures are deeply touching. One involves Loop's dead wife, Kara, who appears intermittently as a ghost. The other is the uneasy relationship between Loop's parents--Red, his German Lutheran father, a laid-back brick salesman, and Helen, his pious Polish Catholic mother, a college administrator who hoards religious statuary. Rosenthal expresses his zany imagination in a vernacular prose style, a combination that can be grating at times. But the book also has its moments of lyricism, in which Rosenthal touchingly affirms love as our bulwark against death. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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