Fanny Howe, Author Sun and Moon Press $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-55713-307-6
""Between a child's progress from a heavenly world to a world that is a likeness of heaven and then to a world which is delivered and upheld by a dream of heaven, there is only the world."" That heavenless world is the setting of this dark fable in prose, verse and pictures from poet and novelist Howe (Saving History; one crossed out), which describes the disintegration of a bohemian Irish-German-American family on the eve of WWII as discontent drives each family member to neglect, abuse or psychosis. The mother, an avant-garde performer, and the father, a distracted academic, leave their adoptive Dublin home to pursue their careers on the Continent. Favored older daughter Irene stays in Ireland with her despised sister, Cloda, while the self-absorbed parents ignore signs of oncoming war. When their mother's former lover, a Norwegian translator, moves in with the sisters, he and 18-year-old Irene fall in love, isolating Cloda even further. Language, not plot, propels this book by way of metaphors, sensory images and lilting rhythms. Interspersed into the narrative are little stories told with traditional syntax and modern irony. As the sisters take on mythic proportions, the war between them seems both to echo and to predict the history of their century. In no sense a traditional novel, this virtuosic book nevertheless recalls such ""ante-modernist"" fictions as Mann's ""Tonio Kroeger"" and Yeats's plays, which make their own appearances in the narrative. Woodcut illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
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