The Dreamers

Stephanie Ryback, Author, Brian Hall, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-016076-0
Hall ( Stealing from a Deep Place ) makes a striking debut as a novelist with this fluently written and compelling story of love and death in contemporary Vienna. Eric Wiederholt is supposed to start work on a doctoral dissertation sponsored by Harvard, where his recently deceased father was a professor of German history. But soon after arriving, and despite having tested positive for AIDS, he becomes involved in a raunchily sexual and tempestuous relationship with the demanding and suicidal Jutta, and he moves into the slatternly household she shares with other unmarried mothers and their offspring. As the months idle past and Eric's brittle self-consciousness begins to cede to a deeper awareness of himself and his delayed rebellion against his domineering father. Hall brings subsidiary characters fully to life, as he does Eric's poignant, sparring relationship with Jutta's mulatto son Timo, and the tragic denouement is completely organic to this superbly realized novel. If Hall falls into the trap of letting narration take the place of action, and if Jutta lacks the irreducibility of the truly ``rounded'' fictional character for being so much a psychological case study, nonetheless his novel demonstrates an outstanding talent. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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