Field of Stars

Alice Mattison, Author William Morrow & Company $19 (253p) ISBN 978-0-688-11119-9
Poet and short story writer Mattison ( Great Wits ) delicately and surely reveals her protagonist's interior states in a first novel with strong echoes of Marjorie Morningstar. Susan Sternfeld, raised in postwar Brooklyn by doting Jewish grandparents, is only partly aware of the strangeness of her family's living arrangments: her mother has a separate apartment upstairs and her father, whose parents she lives with, is a remote presence, remarried with a new family Susan barely knows. But as Susan grows up, marries, has a love affair and gives birth to twins, against the tumultuous background of the 1960s, the force of these early patterns emerges. Susan, whose lover calls her by her translated surname, ``star field,'' is forced to decide whether she will repeat the choices of her absent parents or consciously shape her life as her own. Mattison's prose, often quiet as a murmur, is punctuated by wit and brilliant observations, although readers may feel claustrophobic, trapped in Susan's thoughts at the expense of experiencing the other characters. Mattison's is an enormously appealing and original voice, however, and one hopes her writing will reflect greater confidence in the future. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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