Geoffrey Clark, Author . Red Hen $14.95 (192p) ISBN 1-888996-36-6

Set during an October weekend in the late 1950s, Clark's unintentionally hilarious novel tells of 19-year-old Miller and his affair with a teacher named Yvonne, who is 10 years his senior and married to a drunken university professor. Miller is earning some extra money by working at a club where Yvonne's sister is getting married; Yvonne apparently has had her eye on the young man for a while. Her first words expose her as a complete nightmare: an extraordinarily pretentious character, she has, it seems, memorized all of literature and cannot stop flinging bits of it around. When she gives Miller a "Petoskey stone," she launches into a page-long explanation of its origins and geological history, complete with a quote from Heart of Darkness. But it gets worse. Immediately after sex, Yvonne says, "My darling lover who brings me the 'little death' and lovely arrowheads and many other things I cherish. Come here, lover, and please think kindly of me in the years to come...." Miller's not immune, either: he weirdly vacillates between expressions like "tire-iron stiff prick" and "I recalled a line from Sir Philip Sidney." Even after the two lovers stumble upon the body of Yvonne's husband, who has died of carbon monoxide poisoning, she cannot resist pontificating on his complexion: "The hemoglobin in blood, that makes it red? It bonded with the carbon monoxide instead of oxygen, that's why he looks like this." Flashbacks separate the chapters; while they serve no real purpose, at least they offer a respite from the horrible Yvonne. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 05/01/2002
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