Ducks

Helen Hodgman, Author Harmony $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-57397-6
Published to praise in Britain and Australia, Hodgman makes her U.S. debut with this smart, often startling, energetic and choppily episodic novel that has more flash than substance. Centered on Moss and Hazel, a lesbian pair attached to an earnest, ideologically correct, feminist collective in contemporary south London, Ducks flits randomly between their current lives, 40-year-old Hazel's luridly tumultuous past in Australia and North America, and the present attempts of her estranged husband, known only as ``le professeur de judo,'' to blank her from his mind. The supporting cast includes Moss's wandering, loony and destitute ex-boyfriend Harold, father of her bewildered tot, Elvis; middle-aged Walter and Daphne, owners of a dog named Angst and conventional parents of teenaged Rupert, who contemplates a career in international terrorism while his father becomes entangled with Hazel; and an assemblage of comic lesbianideologues. But however blackly or benignly comic, outrageous or weird Hodgman's characters, the work is insufficiently humorous overall to escape the limitations of their cartoonish lack of depth. And the author's showy, staccato intercutting of numerous fragmented episodes increases the narrative's opacity rather than offering insight into a grimy urban vision. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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