The Book of Mamie

Duff Brenna, Author University of Iowa Press $27.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-87745-244-7
Set in northern Wisconsin, this picaresque yarn has the exuberance and broad humor of a folk tale. Mentally handicapped Mamie Beaver, sexually and physically abused by her farmer father, runs away with teenage farmboy Christian Foggy, the novel's narrator. Their developing romance is handled sensitively. On the road, the duo meet impresario Don Shepard, apostle of a secular religion of art, who lures Mamie away from Christian and features her as ``phenomenon extraordinaire'' in his Artlife theater, where she does halting imitations of Ophelia. At the opposite pole from Shepard is Robbie Peevy, a fire-and-brimstone preacher who incites crowds to burn books. Other eccentric characters--a crackerbarrel philosopher, a sadistic game hunter, a Valkyrian ``pixie harridan''--expose Christian to the vicissitudes of life. Then first novelist Brenna ushers in a tragedy that facilitates self-understanding. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-1-877655-45-6
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