cover image The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo

The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo

Darrin Doyle, . . St. Martin?s Griffin, $13.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-312-59231-8

Crafting an elaborate fictional world for his second novel, complete with fabricated news reports and other source material (“verified” by the editor), Doyle (Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet ) successfully evokes a moment that will make readers wonder: could this be real? Audrey Mapes is a beautiful Midwestern girl born with no feet and given to eating nonfood items like wood, metal, fabric, or plastic without any adverse effects. Doyle’s narrative follows Audrey and her family, including twin siblings Toby and McKenna, as they cope with Audrey’s bizarre affliction—her father by means of absence, her mother by pills, her grandmother by religion and her siblings by further eating disorders. Told from McKenna’s point of view, the often disturbing story pursues Audrey from unhappy childhood through adulthood success; she earns fame through a traveling freak show and, eventually, arrives in the Michigan city of Kalamazoo for a climactic eating event. While Doyle’s novel is relentlessly inventive, his characters are irredeemably unlikable, making it difficult to care about any of the bizarre goings-on. (Jan.)