cover image Frequency of Souls

Frequency of Souls

Mary Kay Zuravleff / Author Farrar Straus Giroux $23 (0p) ISBN

Zuravleff's impressive literary debut is as unassuming as its hero, mild-mannered engineer George Mahoney, whose wife describes him as ""a textbook passive-passive."" At 39, George embarks upon a tentative voyage of self-discovery when he develops an unlikely crush on his awkward office mate, Niagara Spense, who wears a hearing aid, sews her own ill-fitting dresses and is the complete antithesis of his attractive and hyper-organized spouse, Judy. One of Niagara's chief attractions is that she views her job designing Coldpoint refrigerators as a prosaic way to support her quest to hear and record the electrical sound waves of the dead. Set in Washington, D.C., this comedy of manners revolves around quirky, domestic details: George's lifelong passion for dinosaurs; Judy's single-minded attempts to control the weight problem of their son, Harris; and Harris's entry in the school science fair. Zuravleff is a clever and entertaining writer with an eagle eye for the farcical aspects of mating and marriage. Perhaps she too carefully rations offbeat traits one to a character-as if a sprinkling of eccentricities might distract the reader from the basic characterizations. But that doesn't muffle the success with which she portrays how George finds it in himself to bring an engaged wonder to everyday life. (June)