Frontier Inventory

Nancy Hertzberg, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (382p) ISBN 978-0-671-65864-9
After an intriguing opening (``You suppose everyone has a dream house . . . a place you must return to every night when you are asleep.''), this lyrical first novel founders under the numbing pressure of Tracy Hawkins's coy, unrelenting, second-person narration. From childhood Tracy has deviously caused havoc, e.g., provoking her unstable sister June to damaging tantrums, presaging her eventual tragic fate. The siblings' unconventional parents walk around nude and are called hippies by the neighbors: Mom is an artist, Dad a would-be novelist. The eroticised account of the family's life in Sleepy Hollow proceeds disjointedly on two levels, the real and the surreal, dipping in and out of incestuous fantasies so that the distinction between events and dreams is seldom clear. The girls' parents split; both remarry, but Mom also has a lesbian lover. So does Tracy, who takes a job working with terminal patients in an institution, then tending a dying woman at home. Characters come and go by the dozens, but they remain undeveloped, most no more than names. The novel's fragmented quality is all the more unfortunate since Hertzberg is often capable of beautiful prose. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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