Mitch Cullin, Author Dufour Editions $22.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-8023-1335-5
Traces of Faulkner's A Rose for Emily and faint echoes of the horror film classic Psycho infuse this highly charged, eccentrically imaginative narrative by the author of Branches. The unusual tale comprises mainly dialogues between 11-year-old Jeliza-Rose and her four bodiless Barbie doll heads as she wanders about the isolated landscape of a house beside the railroad tracks in bleak rural Texas, interrupted periodically by the dynamite exploding in a nearby limestone quarry. Jeliza-Rose's mother is dead from a heroin overdose. The girl's father, 67-year-old Noah, a drug-addicted, has-been rock guitarist, leaves his wife's corpse on the bed in their sleazy L.A. apartment and takes his abused, disturbed daughter on a Greyhound bus to his long-dead mother's home. There Noah pins a map of Denmark on the wall and sits and stares trancelike for days on end. Jeliza-Rose soon encounters Dell, an eccentric neighbor woman who wears a beekeeper's veil and has a brain-damaged brother named Dickens. Precocious (and often pretentious) conversations between Jeliza-Rose and her Barbie heads (one is named Classique) serve to illumine the girl's disturbed state of mind and to further the surreal plot. As Jeliza-Rose's fantasy world collides with Dell's appalling secret, a grotesque history is revealed. This brutal portrait of a young girl's unbearable childhood requires immersion in her fevered imagination, and is relieved only at the end by Jeliza-Rose's brave effort to save herself from total breakdown. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-8023-1340-9
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