Kneeling Bus CL

Beverly Coyle, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-89919-932-0
Coyle's poetic, imagist prose befits the fiction debut of the startlingly talented author of two previous books on poet Wallace Stevens. Daughter of a Methodist minister, narrator Carrie Willis is nine years old in the first of the vignettes that compose the novel, brilliantly encapsulating and refracting the girl's childhood in rural 1950s Florida. We are introduced to such delightfully quirky characters as her Seventh Day Adventist grandmother in Boynton Beach--prey to the family's ``dark weakness for fundamentalism''--who uses numerology to prove the Pope the Antichrist. At one point Carrie is parked in Valdez, Celery Capital of the World, with her wealthy Aunt Dove, who, besieged by a dubious suitor as self-deceiving as he is bruisingly deceptive, sets in motion a pellucidly observed series of misunderstandings devolving on preacher Norman Vincent Peale. The novel pays elegiac tribute, spiked with wry wit, to a simpler Floridian epoch whose ``gentle herbivores'' (like Carrie's father) held sway over an agricultural belt now largely devastated by encroaching suburbia. Bizarrely beautiful images (a puffed sleeve, glowing from inside ``like a white blowfish'') linger seductively in the imagination, as does this magically illuminating work overall. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-14-014898-5
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