cover image Phoenix


Melissa Pritchard. Cane Hill Press, $8.95 (130pp) ISBN 978-0-943433-08-0

Pritchard ( Spirit Seizures ) avoids the current wave of psychedelic nostalgia in this somewhat cynical look at the '60s. Phoenix (Mary Lou before she hit the road) hitches rides and floats from lover to lover, crashing where she can. Kind people give her food, rides or lodging, but when she needs emotional support, friends and lovers disappear, leaving her to wryly observe ``how nice people can be when they don't know you.'' Her frequent reading of Rimbaud (``saint of passive debauch'') allows her to rationalize a sadomasochistic strapping from her lover, the owner of a pornographic bookstore. Though the counterculture she inhabits is rife with hypocrisy, the straight world offers little comfort. The saleswomen in a clothes store keep a close watch on her in her ``chewed-up bellbottoms'' and floppy hat. Phoenix's disapproving parents don't know where she is, and she prefers to keep it that way. The author quickly sketches believable, odd characters--Althea, the lesbian snake handler; Ron, the lutemaker--that could easily have become caricatures, but the novel rambles from scene to scene, its occurrences as random as a spin of the Karmic wheel. (Nov.)