Family Meal

Laura Valtorta, Author Carolina Wren Press $9.94 (127p) ISBN 978-0-932112-33-0
Valtorta's first novel offers episodes narrated by Sally Linden about her family and their life in upstate New York; Sally's depiction of the 1950s charms by blending the ordinary and the eccentric and by delivering it from the perspective of a shrewd but still limited observer. There are fireworks at a family dinner when Sally's brother Forde and cousin Stanley Jr. slip vermouth into the water glass of Grandma Clara, a former president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Sally encounters her family's complacent sexism when it comes to the family construction business: although Sally is the only child who has worked in the business, Forde and Stanley Jr. are seen as prospects to take it over. The family of Sally's boyfriend, Mario Conti, is as colorful as Sally's own, as Sally realizes when she joins them for Christmas dinner: they descend on a 30-pound turkey like piranhas in a feeding frenzy and later amuse themselves by sorting out their relationships to certain third and fourth cousins. When Sally is relegated to ``a nice college for women'' (where her roommate aspires to be Annette Funicello) and Mario goes to Syracuse U., Sally's resentment over sexism finally bubbles to the surface. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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