Picturing Will

Ann Beattie, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-394-56987-1
Beattie's ( Love Always ) first novel in five years is an understated meditation on psychic survival in the 1980s. Jody is a wedding photographer in Virginia, a struggling artist and a single mother with a bright 5-year-old son, Will. Jody's boyfriend Mel wants her to marry him and move to New York City, where he works in an art gallery. As the flat, pared-down narrative prismatically shifts between characters' viewpoints, we see Will molded by traumatic or random events: his philandering, remarried father, a Florida handyman, is taken away in a drug bust; and Haveabud, his mom's effete, bisexual, art-world mentor, fondles stepson Spencer, who then involves Will in bizarre games. An italicized lyric monologue threading through the novel underscores the tribulations of parenting. In a coda, we meet Will 20 years later, with a son of his own. The Florida section flounders, but Beattie offers gimlet insights on the compromises of marriage, men's emotional armor, sex as escape, the terrors of childhood. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55800-236-4
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-679-73194-8
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-84-92663-09-5
Ebook - 138 pages - 978-0-307-76570-3
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