Force of Gravity

R. S. Jones, Author Viking Books $19.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-83591-1
First novelist Jones is also the marketing manager at HarperCollins, so he has two major houses rooting for him (See Talk of the Trade, Mar. 1), as well as a strong blurb from no less than Iris Murdoch. He's well worth the attention. His book is the story of Emmet (no other name), a hapless creature who has never recovered from a rootless childhood and a mother who leaped to her death before his eyes. He constructs weird patterns of behavior and mountains of lies to protect himself from a world he finds inherently hostile. Novels told entirely from the point of view of people on the edge of sanity can be trying, but Jones's crisp, observant writing, his often mordantly hilarious scenes and his dead-on dialogue carry the reader on a wild, oddly compelling ride. Emmet tries to live on carrots alone, compiles endless diary entries, goes shopping (disastrously), adopts an appalling stray cat to befriend his unhappy dog, is robbed, tries to maintain contact with his elusive brother Jonathan and is finally committed, ever apologetic, to an asylum. Jones draws wonderful portraits of some maddening but profoundly human crazies, one of whom eventually escapes with Emmet. It is a tribute to the skill and sympathy with which Jones has evoked Emmet's pathetic life that the reader comes to care so deeply about his survival and recovery. An astonishing debut. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991

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