Camping Out

Eleanor Clark, Author Putnam Publishing Group $16.95 (223p) ISBN 978-0-399-13122-6
Clark's intellectual acuity and linguistic artistry work their magic in her new, complex novel. The strange story with the deceptively simple title starts with the return of Dennie Hensley to America for her mother's funeral. (The wife of a diplomat, she now lives in Rome.) When Marilyn Groves, a woman Dennie has known casually for years, invites her to an outing on a Vermont lake, she accepts, despite misgivings. Marilyn is a lesbian and Dennie had once imagined having sex with her, a desire that overwhelms her now in their isolated tent in the woods. But the women are interrupted by an intruder whom they fear, although he leaves them unharmed. Later Marilyn asks Dennie to tell about her early lifeperegrinations in New England and Italy with her twin brother Rick and their divorced mother. The memories of growing up among the poor residents of Rocca, outside Rome, are profoundly moving to Dennie (and the reader). To Marilyn these are material for her posturing attempts at nouveau writing. The next day the man who had invaded the camp returns, this time bent on rape and murder. The women survive the horror, but later revelations, up to the ironic close, leave the reader shaken. Clark won the National Book Award for The Oysters of Locmariaquer. (April 30)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1986
Release date: 04/01/1986
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