Dexterity

Douglas Bauer, Author Simon & Schuster $18.45 (317p) ISBN 978-0-671-64997-5
Combine the characters of Raymond Carver with the sensibilities of Henry James and the result might be Bauer's bleak, but vividly written first novel. Ed and Ramona King live in Myles, a grim mill town in upstate New York. They have a baby named Jonas, but already the marriage has turned sour. During her pregnancy, Ramona, a wiry and rambunctious young woman, had tried to escape her claustrophobic existence, but a freak car accident severed her right hand. Now she has an artificial hand (which makes it difficult to care for the baby), a stultifying home and a distant and sullen husband. Early in the novel, while lying in the middle of a field on a hot summer day, Ramona wanders away from the baby. Before she knows it (it's as if she's in a trance) she's fleeing Myles and all it represents. On the road she meets a goodhearted man named Donnie, who lives in a trailer by the river. Ramona establishes with him the first genuine intimacy she's ever had. But fear of discovery causes her to move to a nearby town, where she finds a job and an apartment. Meanwhile, Ramona's aban don ment of him throws Ed King into a tragic tailspin. The book follows both their stories; as Ramona struggles to find her identity, Ed sinks into a lonely and embittered oblivion. This densely written novel occasionally employs language and metaphor that over whelm the characters and settings it depicts. Still, the first-time author writes with power and compassion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-449-21864-8
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8050-4302-0
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-1-60938-267-4
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