The Almanac Branch

Bradford Morrow, Author Simon & Schuster $18.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-73932-4
This hybrid tale of Freudian psychodrama and gothic affects is narrated by Grace Brush, a 33-year-old woman traumatized by a childhood marked by migraines and incest. At the age of seven, Grace's visions of Flare Man (he does tricks and irradiates a winter ailanthus tree into fiery leaves) prompt the family's removal from a Manhattan brownstone to Scrub Farm on Shelter Island. There Grace's hallucinations cease, but she is troubled instead by the elaborate fantasies of her brother Desmond, four years her senior, with whom she engages in sexual unions secretly witnessed by another brother, Berg. Meanwhile, the distracted father, who lords over a sprawling consumer-products business, and the anxious, depressed mother drift away from each other and from the children, leaving Grace to puzzle out the truth of their lives in her almanac, the calendar in which this tale is written. As with the children of most emotionally dysfunctional families, Grace is ill-equipped for such an undertaking: bereft of understanding, she clings to dead cliches (``Things are never so bad as they seem to be in the night''); her impatient logic veers from intuitive to nonsensical. In the end, Grace remains deeply enigmatic--by turns poetic and pathetic, inert and charging--attempting, as always, to grasp something only she can see. The author's language, despite the occasional false note, hews closely to Grace's troubled mind. Morrow ( Come Sunday ) is the editor of the literary magazine Conjunctions. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4516-7244-2
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-393-30921-8
Ebook - 286 pages - 978-1-4532-1200-4
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