Split Skirt

Agnes Rossi, Author Random House (NY) $20 (223p) ISBN 978-0-679-42543-4
This uneven novel by the author of The Quick spans three days in the lives of two New Jersey women. Incensed over her boss's ban on split skirts in the office, 29-year-old, tough-mouthed Rita goes out to a bar and is arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession. When middle-aged Mrs. Tyler refuses to allow her wealthy husband to bail her out of yet another shoplifiting charge, she ends up sharing Rita's jail cell. Examining their lives and marriages, the women find that their problems are remarkably similar despite outward differences. The ensuing first-person flashbacks combined with reluctant affirmations of sisterhood and friendship are, at times, compelling, but--in the manner of daytime soaps--often predictable. Particularly hackneyed is a subplot in which Rita and Mrs. Tyler have a heartwarming encounter with two Puerto Rican prostitutes. By depriving Rita of a surname and Mrs. Tyler of a given name, Rossi adds an artificial note to an already schematic plot. Having opted for quirky character portrayal rather than hard-edged reality, she succeeds in transforming a potentially disturbing fictional setting into a literary comfort zone. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-517-15602-5
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