cover image Longleg

Longleg

Glenda Adams / Author Cane Hill Press $10.95 (339p) ISBN 978-0

As a 10-year-old boy in post-WW II Australia, William Badger is as stern and careful as a little old man. In its frightening simplicity, his daily existence with his mad, alternately seductive and spurning mother and his much older, crippled, ineffectual father parallels a Grimm fairy tale, culminating in his mother's abandoning him at a seaside boardinghouse. Adams ( Dancing on Coral ) turns from her devastating depiction of William's childhood to a less motivating, less persuasive portrait of the floundering, emotionally damaged man pursuing women in the 1960s. After high school, he leaves home and sells pens and pencils in a department store, and there he falls in love with another clerk, Meg Meese, who has a predilection for lying and self-invention. During a rare Christmas visit home, his mother chases him with an axe, but the police arrest William on assault charges; he flees to Brussels and becomes involved with political radicals, who spout ridiculous rhetoric. One, Tillie Pepper, captures William's heart, but she betrays his secrets--and besides, she's in love with another man who's married to someone else. William moves to London, becomes a bus driver and embarks on a liaison with a married American who says she loves him but buys presents for her husband. And so it goes. (July)