Recipes from the Dump

Abigail Stone, Author W. W. Norton & Company $18 (271p) ISBN 978-0-393-03854-5

What emerges from this engaging first novel is less a cohesive story than the wry, multilayered perspective of 37-year-old Gabby Fulbriten, a single mother of three who works as a grocery checkout clerk and lives in the ``wild country'' near the local dump in a small Vermont town. In an honest, intelligent and often hilarious first-person voice, Gabby narrates the odd vignettes and opinions that fill her life. She discusses quilting with her neighbor Hester; she flirts with Rolando, the garbage man; she helps Mr. Boots find his straying cows; she battles with her adolescent daughter, Shelley; she diets unhappily, while obsessing about food. Inventively woven throughout are fanciful recipes, hybrids of real ingredients and some surreal additions-Brandied Relationship Ring Flambe calls for ``spicy interludes, nutty remarks, juice tidbits''-that complement Gabby's many emotional turns. Also present are unnerving personal ads that point to the heroine's cynicism about, yet overwhelming desire for, a relationship: e.g., ``Macho hunk with brown hair and big biceps (green eyes) wants YOU! I get out of prison in June.'' Countless riffs on her trials and tribulations in ``husband hunting'' encompass too much of the novel; convinced of her own desperation, Gabby eventually considers becoming wife number two to the just-married Iggy Stains, a Mormon man she doesn't much like. But Stone's whittled prose successfully contains her character's dizzying digressions and often finds a lyrical edge in seemingly mundane details. 35,000 first printing; author tour. (Oct.)
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