False Starts

Terri McFerrin Smith, Author Alfred A. Knopf $17.95 (171p) ISBN 978-0-394-56866-9
The territory of this finely honed, accomplished first novel will not seem unfamiliar to readers of contemporary American ``writers workshop'' fiction, but McFerrin Smith's keen powers of observation and sensitivity, and her clear, spare, direct and yet allusive voice give it new vitality. Mara, an accountant's daughter from a Missouri suburb whose mother overeats because her father drinks, and vice versa, exits to Missoula, Mont., via Greyhound bus. The disjointedness of the narrative, jumpy with filmic crosscuts, conveys the disconnected, rootless, urgently drifting nature of the lives of Mara and her friends. Working as a barmaid and collecting tips in her cleavage, acquiring a boyfriend who shares her with his buddies, drinking, drugging, ice fishing, shooting the insulators off power poles, Mara comes into her own. Dropping out on the Montana prairie is for Mara a means of achieving self-sufficiency and centeredness. McFerrin Smith has captured convincingly the texture of a recognizably American life; fittingly, Mara's determination and lack of self-pity end the novel on a hopeful note rather than one of anomie and alienation. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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