Exposure

Kathryn Harrison, Author Random House (NY) $20 (218p) ISBN 978-0-679-40942-7
Harrison's second novel (after Thicker Than Water ) is a mesmerizing depiction of a woman on the edge of emotional disintegration. Ann Rogers is a beautiful, chic, financially comfortable New Yorker with a career as a videographer of weddings and society functions, and a loving husband who restores landmark buildings. But Ann is addicted to speed, a drug which holds especially dangerous consequences for her, since she is a diabetic. Moreover, every time she does crystal meth, she compulsively shoplifts at Bergdorf's and Saks. Flashing back to Ann's Texas upbringing, Harrison gradually discloses the source of her deep neuroses. Her cold, monstrously selfish father extracted a bizarre kind of vengeance for her mother's death in childbirth. Edgar Rogers became famous for his photographs of a prepubescent and adolescent Ann, naked and assuming deathly poses. He committed suicide in 1979; now a retrospective of his work, including photos of Ann engaged in acts the memory of which she has tried to repress, is imminent at the MoMA. Demonstrating impressive control of the novel's structure and pacing, Harrison steadily deepens her sophisticated psychological portrait of Ann while elevating suspense and the reader's emotional involvement. The shocking circumstances of Ann's life become clear: she survived traumatic events by pathologically retreating into herself, but her subconscious erupts now and then in suicidal behavior. This unsparing picture of a woman spinning out of control is conveyed in luminous and tensile prose. The novel's larger theme, an indictment of a society ``which encourages exploitation even as it punishes all who chronicle it,'' is eerily prescient, calling to mind the current controversy over photographer Sally Mann's nude pictures of her children. Harrowing but spellbinding, the novel has the impact of an unforgettably vivid image seared on the eye. BOMC featured alternate. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 218 pages - 978-1-85702-305-3
Paperback - 257 pages - 978-0-446-67023-4
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-0-8129-7359-4
Open Ebook - 181 pages - 978-0-307-76599-4
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