River of Glass

Deborah Bergman, Author Putnam Publishing Group $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-13533-0
This cryptic first novel by the author of the nonfiction Inner Voyage skimps on plot details and abounds with abstract impressions of glass, light, color, movement, stillness, wetness. Tess Jordan, a glassblower living temporarily in a Spanish coastal town, becomes entangled with Argentineans who, like her, are running from their pasts and hiding from the world. Recalling the secrets of her youth in suburban New York, she draws parallels between these and her present refuge in Spain in an effort to understand and reconstruct her life. Bergman likens Tess to a smashed pane of glass whose shiversstet she must glue back together. Indeed, the novel itself resembles a shattered stained-glass window; its fragments are aesthetically intriguing, but too many pieces are missing for the picture to be pieced together. That the reader's confusion aptly reflects the heroine's does not compensate for the ensuing frustration, exacerbated by the absence of answers to such crucial questions as what finally motivates Tess to rejoin the real world or why she chose to abandon it in the first place. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
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