cover image Remembering Jody

Remembering Jody

Randy Sue Coburn. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $22.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0566-5

An adolescent romance manque between kindred spirits Marsha and Jody--drawn to each other by their Jewish backgrounds and family connections in the relentlessly Baptist town of Sparta, S.C., where they grew up--provides the central myth of screenwriter Coburn's (Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) frothy debut novel. When the story begins in 1989, Marsha--by now a D.C.-based magazine journalist who's spending the summer in Seattle with boyfriend Paul--finds herself face to face with the long-lost playmate of her childhood. But Jody has become a schizophrenic, and has ""escaped"" from his parents' home to find Marsha. Alternating chapters--neatly titled ""Seattle"" or ""South Carolina"" or ""College""--employ flashback with unconvincing facility. Tedium will set in for readers as, in plodding prose, Coburn piles on anecdotes about quirky Southerners. The novel's lack of both a center and a felicitous style makes the forming of emotional bonds between readers and the book's characters difficult, at best.(Feb.)