Jernigan

David Gates, Author, Gary Fisketjon, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-40237-4
Peter Jernigan is an LSD-popping alcoholic whose drunken wife killed herself in a bizarre accident. Living on gin and irony, taking refuge in Wallace Stevens or William Burroughs, he gets fired from his job in New York City but almost manages to convince himself that he's a responsible father to his confused teenage son, Danny, a rock guitarist. Jernigan's emotional numbness continues when he moves in with Martha, a single mother who raises rabbits in the basement of her New Jersey home, then shoots and devours them. The action in this depressing first novel is framed by a Fourth of July and a white Christmas. But instead of all-American families we get adolescent suicide, wife beating, addiction, divorce and a powerful portrait of two generations unable to communicate with each other. Gates's tale lags in momentum as his self-pitying narrator, insisting that he's functional even as he increasingly loses touch with reality, fails to confront the guilt, rage and self-hate lurking within himself. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-679-73713-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1864-1
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