cover image The Law of Falling Bodies

The Law of Falling Bodies

Jill Ciment. Poseidon Press, $18.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79451-4

The narrator of Ciment's quirky, sometimes funny, lyrical but disappointing love story is 15 when she falls for a kind widower 30 years her senior: Arthur accidentally rams his car into the trailer in which Kim and her loopy mom, Gloria, live. Kim's life has been bedlam; Gloria sells mail-order aphrodisiac perfumes, canine treadmills, weight-reducing solvents and other harebrained products while keeping constantly on the move in order to evade angry customers, the Food and Drug Administration and the postmaster general. Mother and daughter briefly join Arthur at his rented house in California, but when his relationship with Kim approaches the sexual, he flees. Several years later, after Kim has graduated from UC-Berkeley, she and Arthur meet again and become lovers, and she moves in with him. Meanwhile, Gloria's entrepreneurial world collapses, and in 1969 she crash-lands into their blissful household. Ciment ( Small Claims ) doesn't tell us enough about Kim's feelings or her sexual rivalry with her mother. Kim never comments on the age difference between herself and the too-gracious and considerate Arthur; their May-September union is simply a given. The offbeat ending, which telescopes the next 25 years, is anticlimactic and unconvincing. (Mar.)