A story collection, lamely masquerading as a novel, that revolves around (and around) the death of Kenneth Gordon Gold, aged 20, who drove his car down an empty road straight into a tree. Speaking now in the first person, now in the third, now when they are young, now older, now before the accident occurred, now 30 years after it took place, Ken's relatives, friends, lovers, and some who never knew him throw light on the accident but no illumination. Angles abound; vision is wanting. Ken's surviving family—Hannah, the mother who moans but never genuinely mourns; Jack, the father who skips out; Doug, the eldest brother who finally and endlessly cries, but without convincing grief; Cara, the neurotic sister; Jeremy, the homosexual younger brother—all subscribe to the same dismal theory (perhaps because they are all the same dismal person) that good fortune lies in having no family. Jack refers to his second wife's child as: ``...Mags, that fortunate only child.'' Jeremy wishes his father had been hit by a bus before he married his mother, then none of them would have been born. Although Schulman (Not a Free Show, 1988) occasionally comes up with a nice image, her men, women, children, straights and gays all sound alike, and her dialogue is uniformly banal. ``Between the two of us there have been enough tears around here to last a lifetime,'' says Jim in ``Boy Girl, Boy Girl.'' Says Sylvia in ``This is The Life:'' ``If Ken hadn't died I bet my whole life would have been different.'' A disappointing second effort.
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