Mrs. Randall

Christopher T. Leland, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16.45 (234p) ISBN 978-0-395-42729-3
Leland's second novel (after Mean Time is set in a small Southern town during the first decades of this century. Action centers around Gams Stevenson and his father's second wife, a widow whom her stepson continues to call by her former name, Mrs. Randall. Unable to accept her as a mother figure, Gams builds vivid fantasies around the beautiful young woman, who is touched by an aura of sadness that contributes to her mystery. In time, Gams and his stepmother are swept up by events surrounding the brutal murder of an itinerant family. Leland's South is populated by emotional and physical cripples whose seemingly unrelated stories intersect. This Faulknerian substance is limned in a style that is sometimes highly derivative: italics convey different thought phases and serpentine sentences coil back on themselves, with lists of modifiers trailing after their nouns. In the hands of a lesser talent, this could be disastrous. Leland, however, is a strong, imaginative writer, and his story, though occasionally as enigmatic as its title character, is wonderfully wrought and altogether compelling. (May 1)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
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