Crazy Ladies

Michael Lee West, Author
Michael Lee West, Author Longstreet Press $18.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-929264-38-7
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
The characters in West's promising first novel are richly eccentric and they exist in a colorfully evoked setting. However, there's little tension in this saga of a family in small-town Crystal Falls, Tenn. Though the story begins with the shock of a murder and the attempts of Miss Gussie Hamilton, resident matriarch, to conceal it, the murder has little importance in the ensuing narrative, even when the body is unearthed decades later. Meanwhile, Miss Gussie, her three daughters and their daughters endure various dramatic vicissitudes, including a fair share of illegitimate births, betrayals and divorces. (Three generations of daughters reunite under Miss Gussie's roof). Miss Gussie's daughter Dorothy is the only truly ``crazy'' lady among them: her whining sibling rivalry blossoms into self-absorption and culminates in nasty, dangerous paranoia. The extremity of her neurosis seems unwarranted unless one accepts her as a bad seed, but she remains the family troublemaker until she receives her well-deserved comeuppance. Cultural referents, such as pop song titles and lyrics, keep the time frame intact and convey the cadence of life in the rural South, and though readers may become somewhat exasperated by Miss Gussie's flaky kin, they should enjoy West's portraiture of women who triumph over the problems that fate and their own difficult personalities bring into their lives. (Sept.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!