Books by Julie Edelson

Released: May 1, 1999

Love and life, death and the law—all mix and match in this freewheeling southern comedy from Edelson (Bad Housekeeping, 1995, etc.), as a family warped by tragedy careens toward a catastrophe in the unlikely form of a Thanksgiving dinner. Years earlier, Angie and Joe DiPietro suffered a grievous loss when their five-year-old son died of Reye's syndrome. Now Angie is a crisis-line- and hospice-volunteer and a supplier of marijuana to cancer patients, as well as the mother of teenaged Tess and young Nick, who's slightly older than her other boy was when he died. Angie is also a woman of affairs—her latest Romeo is Mason, her pot grower. Between Angie and Joe is a wall of grief grown thick with the years. Joe has channeled his misery into his legal work, but knowledge of Angie's latest infidelity drives him to explore that option too, with a curvy Puerto Rican psychologist whose professional services he's used in court. Meanwhile, Tess, in the full flower of adolescent rebellion, runs away—though not far. From her new vantage point, she witnesses both her parents stepping out, and she lashes out by ratting on her own wanna be boyfriend, who's nabbed carrying enough LSD to put him away for a while. Then Mutt, the family dog, dies. Somehow out of this maelstrom emerges a family Thanksgiving complete with all the trimmings: both lovers, Angie's paranoid mother, Tess and her now-bailed-out boyfriend, and even Mutt, sealed in a cooler while awaiting burial in the backyard. For a moment it looks as if there's magic in the air. Then the police arrive. . . . Riotously fresh and funny scenes, written with liberal doses of irony and reality. The finale, though, steps too far over the credibility line, ringing a sour note in what is otherwise a wonderful chorus of wacky southern voices. Read full book review >
Released: June 15, 1995

A thickly wrought second novel (No News Is Good, 1986) exploring a divorced, tragically hip, '60s-bred mother's attempts to cope with the challenges of raising '90s kids. Cee, an artist who views carpeting their Victorian home with orange shag as grounds for divorcing her un-hip husband, moves to North Carolina with her children, Ariel (she was reading Shakespeare at the time) and Dash (impetus unexplained). If Cee has faults in her children's eyes, it's only because she's committed the crime, intolerable to adolescents, of being too groovy—who else in North Carolina has a mother who drives a 20-year-old Citrîen named ``Ze Lemon'' and dates a long-haired singer many years her junior? Things start to fall apart, though, when—with typical 60's save-the-world aplomb—Cee appoints herself mentor and muse to Ariel's disturbed and neglected friend Fawne. In an attempt to protect Fawne from the evil influences of her bigoted, Bible- thumping stepfather, Cee includes her in a project to paint the interior of a nightclub. The ensuing breakdown of Cee's supposedly idyllic family unit raises questions about who's the real neglectful parent in this picture. Though the novel appears to be building toward an examination of the problems that arise from saving the world while your own backyard is a mess, it quickly switches instead to a surreal finale where Cee's children actually take responsibility for their own problems and beg their mother's forgiveness for their delinquent behavior. But plot is secondary to this style-driven—often overwritten—book. While she produces the occasionally luminous metaphor, Edelson's eccentric uses of language are as often confusing as intensifying (``reprette rags out on an invisible rowing machine, regularly bashing Fawne and chafing Ariel's akimbo like an oarlock''). The result leaves one craving a firmly handled broom to sweep chaos away. Aptly titled, then: an ambitious, but stylistically cluttered, debut. Read full book review >