cover image Concertina


F. Fitzgerald, M. J. Fitzgerald. Random House (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55801-1

Within the brief compass of almost any paragraph within this remarkable first novel (published simultaneously with the author's first collection of short stories; see below), the central character, Coriola, is caught at various stages of her life, from infancy through pubescence, adolescence and several phases of womanhood to her death. The narrative focus is fixed on her sexuality both in fantasy and in fact, and that is also the isolated element in the lives of others. From the pubescent ""despair of discovering nothing is as it seems'' and the ``inexplicable paroxysms of joy'' experienced by 10-year-old girls in the throes of a crush on each other, to her seduction at the hands of her female horseback-riding instructor and a series of later affairs with men, an erotic biography evolves in sudden glimpses and quick scenes. Fitzgerald's psychologizing can be excessively literal, but her insightinto the deep-lying subconscious of the emergent woman is compelling. Her prose, though mannered and discursive at times, is generally strong and vibrant. There can be no mistaking the arrival of a formidable writer. (March 3)