Inventing Memory: A Novel of Mothers and Daughters

Erica Jong, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-017943-4
A bleak feeling of deja vu may grip readers of Jong's new novel. This chronicle of four generations of beautiful, intelligent, highly sexed and artistically talented women is almost a parody of a bodice ripper grafted onto the predictable saga of an indomitable Russian-Jewish immigrant and her descendants. The characters bear the cliches of both genres. Sara Solomon comes to America in steerage in the early 1900s. Aboard ship, she manages to meet Boston blueblood Sim Coppley, who is instantly smitten by her and eventually fathers Salome. As irresistible as her mother, Salome jumps into bed with every smoldering stud who crosses her path, enjoying affairs with enough men that the paternity of her daughter Sally is in doubt. Sally bottoms out on promiscuity and drugs and loses custody of Sara; in the year 2000, when we meet Sara, she is a divorcee searching for her roots in the archives of a Jewish agency. Each of these women is amazingly gifted: Sarah becomes a famous artist; Salome is an avant-garde feminist writer; Sally is a mythic folksinger; and Sara, until she locates her true gift as an historian, struggles--like her forebears--with life as a woman, mother and perpetually in-heat sexpot. The major historical and social issues of the century implode on these characters' lives with melodramatic force: anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, the McCarthy hearings, etc. When Salome goes to Paris in the 1920s, she mingles with Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton and has a fling with Henry Miller. Scenes set in 1950s Hollywood drop names by the paragraph. Jong's prose varies from plummy to vulgar (a woman with a German surname is ""the Nazi shiksa from hell""), from pedestrian to schmaltzy. Meanwhile, she hammers away at the themes of mother/daughter conflict and the turmoil and pain of being a woman who is also an Artist; overarching all, there is the suffering of the Jewish people. The publisher is hyping this novel as a tour de force, but it is no Fear of Flying. It is, moreover, pretentious, tasteless and boring. 150,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; author tour. U.K., translation and dramatic rights: Ed Victor. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-06-017539-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-06-109180-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-06-109701-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-4295-4528-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 4 pages - 978-0-7871-1457-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-06-109693-8
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-1-58542-584-6
Open Ebook - 978-1-4295-4527-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-21600-2
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