T. Cooper, Author . Akashic $14.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-888451-36-8

Cooper picks through the shattered remains of the American nuclear family to find four very diverse characters, who end up becoming a rather bizarre unit in spite of themselves. The novel gets off to a lurid start when the transgendered Isak makes his debut at an underground Cape Cod club, performing well enough to make a series of repeat appearances that complement his other "job" as a male hustler. His personal life is upended, though, when his lover Charlie contracts HIV and returns to his family home in Providence to live with his troubled sister, Arlene, who is trying to deal with her penchant for pills. The most compelling character is Arlene's gorgeous but flighty daughter, Taylor, who capitalizes on her stunning looks to engineer a series of advantageous relationships that more than compensate for her lack of job skills. Taylor's move to Los Angeles after she dumps her current boyfriend pays off when she hooks up with an older Hollywood producer, a connection that leads to a cameo appearance on the prime-time soap opera 90210. Cooper's episodic plot tracks the characters through a variety of odd situations until Isak and Taylor meet in L.A. and take a sexually charged cross-country trip that results in an uneasy reunion with Charlie and Arlene. The absence of a likable protagonist and the lack of narrative continuity keep the novel from entirely cohering, but several of Cooper's extended scenes have a quirky appeal, and she deftly captures the seamier motives of her unconventional characters. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/02/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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