Age

Hortense Calisher, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $0 (121p) ISBN 978-1-55584-132-4
The animating idea behind Calisher's slender new novelan elderly couple's coming to terms with the inevitability of their deathis a worthy theme. And the fictional materials meant to give it substance here seem promising, even exotic. Gemma is a retired architect in her late 70s, Rupert an inactive poet four years younger. One of her daughters by a previous marriage is sordidly murdered in a back alley; the other, conventionally married and pregnant, is living in Saudi Arabia. Rupert's ex-wife arrives from England only to die as they look on; their old friends, a literary power-broker and biographer and his wife, make a brief appearance and depart by double suicide. But the working-through of the material in the form of a team diary is curiously inert and fragmentary, much of it in language that is quaint to the point of eccentricity. A murderno small thing, after allis merely alluded to in passing, as is the adolescent girl's attempted seduction of her stepfather. The death in their presence of a significant person is merely flatly reported, news of the double suicide arrives in the form of a New York Times obituary. The narrative remains lifeless, an exercise rather than a cogent work of art. (September 25)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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