The Port of Missing Men

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Author, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Author William Morrow & Company $17.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-688-08441-7
Writing with her customary abundance of imagination, Smith ( The Book of Phoebe ; Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman ) spins a mesmerizing yarn that stretches from evocative scenes of Miami Beach in the 1920s to the 1936 Olympic games in Munich. The voice of Lily Neelan, a free-spirited and engagingly innocent girl, has a quirky freshness reminiscent of a character in Vonnegut. Lily, a gold medal-winning diver, doesn't care for German men in uniforms (``that Nazi laughing''), but her mother, a glamorous hooker, snares a mysterious German suitor, His Excellency Albert Rexhault, who bestows upon Lily a hotel in the Dry Tortugas that is a fantastic re-creation of the ocean liner Normandie. Lily discovers that Rexhault is another ``missing'' person who, like herself, has an obscure past and a dislocated present. The energy and vitality of the writing more than counterbalance the loop-the-loops of the plot as Lily encounters a series of ``missing'' men. Pirate Jean Laffite figures as (perhaps) an ancestor, and Lily seems to have been named by his long-lived parrot, Rum Keg. Eccentric professor Dr. Gallileo offers Lily a long-distance Yale education; Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler and Zelda Fitzgerald, among others, have walk-on parts. There is, of course, a romance for Lily--with Gresham Young, coach of the Yale diving team. Though the wild and romantically picaresque plot often defies credibility, readers will relish this novel, zigzags and all. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-449-21891-4
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