Purity

Douglas Clegg, Author Cemetery Dance Publications $30 (120p) ISBN 978-1-881475-71-2
Clegg (You Come When I Call You [Forecasts, Mar. 6]) turns the screws dexterously in this sleek, multifaceted suspense story, twisting an ill-fated love triangle into a framework for violent tragedy. Owen Crites, teenage son of a gardener to the rich on Outerbridge Island, pines for debutante Jenna Montgomery, a childhood sweetheart who comes to stay each summer with her parents. Devastated when Jenna arrives the summer of their 18th year with preppie tennis star Jimmy McTeague in tow, Owen schemes to win her back by seducing his sexually conflicted rivalDand then presenting himself as the waylaid victim to Jenna. Ensuing events, though surprising, flow ineluctably from the behavior of Clegg's deftly sketched characters. Owen is intriguingly complex: sympathetic in his insecurity and social na vet , but creepy in his obsessive idolatry of a primitive god appropriated from pulp horror stories. Jimmy, Jenna and even Jenna's love-starved mother, whose exchanges with Owen smolder with sexual tension, all have private moments in which they reveal unspoken, potentially volatile discontent with their lives. Clegg brings them together in a vacation paradise saturated in alcohol, entitlement and hypocrisy, from which a fall seems inevitable. With uncommon finesse, he beguiles the reader into believing that the destinies carved for his doomed modern souls by social caste and economic privilege differ little from the inescapable fates ordained in classic tragedy. (June) FYI: Clegg won an International Horror Guild Award for his short-fiction collection The Nightmare Chronicles at the World Horror Convention in May.
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-1686-5
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