Iced Tea and Ignorance

Howard Lewis Russell, Author, Howard L. Russell, Other Dutton Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55611-094-8
Larded with macabre plot twists and carefully calculated shock effects, this blackly comic portrait of amoral youth and Southern-fried depravity exerts the morbid fascination of a supermarket tabloid. Grotesquely overweight teenager Cyra Freeman has grown up in Alabama, relentlessly mocked by her older brother Raine and mostly ignored by their mother, a New Age crystal-worshipper. When Cyra becomes pregnant after being raped atop the Empire State Building on a visit North, her family doesn't notice. One night after dinner, she goes into her bedroom, gives birth, kills the baby and watches idly as a neighborhood dog hauls it away. That's only the beginning. In the lurid machinations that follow, the unburied corpse becomes the prize in a psychological tug-of-war between Cyra, Raine and Jack Roe, a thrill-killer whose butchery provides the occasion for some especially stomach-churning prose. Russell ( Rush to Nowhere ) gets a lot of mileage out of his can-you-top-this plot and his sibling co-narrators, whose numb, flip style is imported straight from Less Than Zero. But the sporadic insights of his story are finally lost in the glare of the freak-show attractions he eagerly lines up for display. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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