Dirt Angel

Jeanne Wilmot, Author Persea Books $18.95 (145p) ISBN 978-0-86538-088-2
Portentous prose and phony grit mar the eight neo-noir entries in this sensationalistic, witty but unconvincing first collection from O. Henry honoree Wilmot. To the extent that they are thematically united, most of the tales touch on the failure of the mother-daughter relationship, whether the mother is in a gin haze (""Spade in a Minstrel Mask""), a perennial coma (""Red Gables"") or dead on vacation (""Survivors""). Wilmot churns out jaded, affectless characters--insufferable intellectuals on a weekend getaway, junkies and club kids--who are easier to dislike than to believe in. A few are fun to hate: in the chilling ""The Company We Keep,"" an aging female narrator and a clueless 20-year-old beauty find themselves competing with the memory of the woman whom their brittle, middle-aged artiste boyfriends--the ironically named Harry and David--both loved. Wilmot's contempt for her characters animates the tale from start to finish. The other stories, many set along the semi-gentrified borderlines of New York City's Hell's Kitchen and Morningside Heights, lack this frisson of real feeling. Nevertheless, Wilmot is a talented writer; devotees of the Oatesian gothic may look forward to her next book. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
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