Through round upon round of dialogue--scraping on the consciousness like gears wobbling out of synch--Poverman records the...



Through round upon round of dialogue--scraping on the consciousness like gears wobbling out of synch--Poverman records the diminishing life signs of a family entity in deadly terminal stasis: the actual physical total paralysis of Rose, 30-ish daughter of Dr. Joseph Solomon, is the metaphoric touchstone. Injured in an auto accident (or suicide attempt), Rose, mother of two young boys in Wisconsin, is permanently crippled with irreversible nerve damage. At first comatose and then years in institutional care, she has been doggedly attended by mother Bea, who is riding her hobby horse of parapsychology and miracle cures. And now, having regained some speech, Rose is at last brought home to Massachusetts; and her two boys are rescued from the indifferent care furnished by her drifting husband (who fades from sight). But the family members--Bea, Solomon, brother Nick, and Rose--can only re-experience their helpless isolations. . . as Solomon painfully reruns dialogues from the past: bright young Rose's obsessive attachment to her father, her snarling verbal bouts with mother Bea, her refusal to follow a promising singing career, her marriage outside the faith, her disappearance to another life; younger brother Nick's physical strength and emotional weakness, his disappearance--to learn carpentry in Colorado; and Solomon's inability to respond to his children's need--to offer a fluid, open, ""listening"" life. No one has ever listened--and the uncommunicative talking continues even now. Nick, summoned home to ""live in the afterlife of a failed suicide,"" is constantly lectured by both parents--and leaves forever. Rose, forever sealed in the prison of her paralysis, cannot convey her love to her two frightened little boys--a tragic restatement of the isolation of four alienated lives. And though Poverman's portraits of Bea and Rose drift in and out of focus (Rose's too highly colored, Bea's underlit), the dialogues--framed by sharp visual notations--serve as a striking abstract of all circular domestic communications, of souls bred to need but not to deliver. Bleak yet mesmerizing: a bright and highly original experiment by the author of Susan and The Black Velvet Girl.

Pub Date: June 30, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1981