Egg Dancing

Liz Jensen, Author
Liz Jensen, Author Overlook Press $21.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-87951-645-1
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-87951-784-7
Hardcover - 281 pages - 978-0-7475-5707-4
Paperback - 281 pages - 978-0-7475-8526-8
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Fertility, televangelism and psychiatry froth in the test tube of this wacky comic debut by British novelist Jensen. English homemaker Hazel Stevenson is certain that her gynecologist husband, Gregory, is having an affair with Dr. Ruby Gonzalez, his lovely and possibly pregnant colleague at the Fertility Management Center, where Gregory is busy creating a drug that will ""deselect"" any but the most perfect fetus. The British tabloid press has dubbed it the ""perfect baby drug""; the Reverend Vernon Carmichael of TV's Holy Hour thinks Gregory is a tool of the devil-an assessment Hazel is inclined to agree with when she discovers that their four-year-old son, Billy, is the result of an early experiment. Determined to expose Gregory, Hazel enlists the help of Dr. Ishmael Stern of the Manxheath Institute of Challenged Stability, where her paranoid schizophrenic mother, Moira Sugden, is a patient. But Dr. Stern's help includes a course of ""enhanced vitamins"" that results in Hazel being committed to Manxheath. That leaves her sister, Linda, Assistant Manager (Butter Sub-Unit) of the government's Edible Fats Policy, as the only member of the Sugden family free of psychiatric bondage. And it's she who comes up with the consummate plan to foil Gregory, Ruby and their newborn perfect baby. Yes, the story is often overwhelmed by delusions, hallucinations and trips through altered reality. But Jensen has a real gift for wickedly black humor-and enough stylistic panache to hold a reader's attention firmly through the thicket of her excesses. (Mar.)
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