cover image As Soon as It Rains

As Soon as It Rains

Kaylie Jones. Doubleday Books, $15.95 (298pp) ISBN 978-0-385-19474-7

The daughter of the late author James Jones makes her debut in a novel about teenage Chloe Raymond, shattered by the death of her father, a famous playwright. Emotionally bankrupt by the loss of her husband, Chloe's mother cuts herself off from the girl and her younger brother. During her first year at college, feckless, spaced-out Chloe concentrates on sex with the student she thinks she loves, but during summer vacation carries on a hot, ""no-strings'' affair with a neighbor back home. Awkardly written, relying heavily on scatalogical language, the story is mawkish, ultimately boring. Signs that Chloe is maturing, applying herself to learning the craft of play-writing, are unconvincing; so too is her sudden awareness that her cold mother is capable of loving. There are flashes of Jones's potential as a novelist in a few character delineations, of what she can achieve as a storyteller when she gains perspective and linguistic skills. But here she fails to make one care what happens to anybody in the big cast. (March 14)