As in her Afternoon of a Faun (1982), Hearon probes a young woman's grope for a sense of self amongst odd constellations of...

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OWNING JOLENE

As in her Afternoon of a Faun (1982), Hearon probes a young woman's grope for a sense of self amongst odd constellations of parents and forebears, but here the humor stretches to wildly inventive burlesque, and the dark side of the identity search--the struggle to defend a shrinking self from being obliterated by others' exploitation--has a more savage emphasis. Throughout her childhood, Jolene's long-divorced parents kidnapped her back and forth, in various disguises and various places. (Midge could whisk Jolene from school as a convincing male electrician, while Turk did a bang-up job posing as a female Sunday school teacher.) Now, however, Jolene lives with that King and Queen of Scam, Uncle Brogan and Aunt Glenna, who are using Jolene as an underage dependent while engaged in virtuoso con games in their San Antonio, Texas, digs--and while periodically rescuing Brogan's set of knotty little parents who regularly gamble away their house. Meanwhile, Jolene is posing for, and sleeping with, artist Henry Wozencrantz, who melds painting and sex; but Jolene is also attracted to L.W., an actor who's so ""real"" (to Jolene) because he has a generic Mom who irons in the living room. It's after attending Brogan and Glenna's party for their con victims at La Fonda Sur Rosa Motel--where Midge shows up as a waiter--that Jolene flees to Henry. But Henry's art show has a horrible surprise for Jolene, who finds that she's a celebrity whose body now belongs to the world at large--and whose fame blinds L.W. At the close, the real and tiny Jolene scurries for a final fortress against all those who would ""own"" her and dissolve her with unseeing eyes. The broad comedy involving some marvelous originals--and crackling commentary on civic preoccupations in San Antonio--is a delight, in a novel with pace, buoyancy, and satiric coherence.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988