Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Lorrie Moore. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (147pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43482-5
A disillusioned, middle-aged woman's remembrance of an ephemeral teenage friendship is triggered by eating cervelles in a Parisian restaurant in Moore's acerbic, witty and affecting third novel (after Like Life). While vacationing in Paris, narrator Berie Carr, whose marriage is stuck in a bleakly funny state of suspended collapse, looks back to her girlhood in Horsehearts, an Adirondack tourist town near the Canadian border. There in the summer of 1972, she was a skinny, 15-year-old misfit who rejected her parents and idolized her sassy, sexually precocious friend Sils, who played Cinderella at a theme park called Storyland where Berie was a cashier. In a series of flashbacks, Berie recounts stealing into bars with Sils; sneaking cigarettes in the shadows of Storyland rides named Memory Lane and The Lost Mine; and how, midway through the summer, she was shipped off to Baptist camp after filching hundreds of dollars from her register to pay for an abortion for Sils. Moore's bitterly funny hymn to vanished adolescence is suffused with droll wordplay, allegorical images of lost innocence and fairy-tale witchery and a poignant awareness of how life's significant events often prove dismally anticlimactic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994