LOCAL DEITIES by Agnes Bushell


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A fictional tribute to two members of the real-life Ohio 7--a tiny band of violent idealists who dreamed they could spark revolution by making statements and blowing up buildings. Bushell (Shadowdance, p. 659) paints a semiautobiographical portrait, drawing on her experience as the wife of the attorney for mid-80's revolutionary Ray Levasseur. The novel opens with a paranoid tour through Annie's mind. Although she looks like a typical housewife, she's living a dangerous double life--even when she's buying pantyhose in Woolworth's, she has an eye out for security. Later, Annie's worst nightmare comes true. Her husband--Paul Rousseau (a.k.a. Ray Levasseur)--and her three children are arrested by the FBI while attending a birthday party with another underground revolutionary couple. Annie burns incriminating documents and vanishes into the night--bound for the impromptu underground railroad that harbors battered women and revolutionaries alike. Cut to Annie's old friends from more mellow days: Erika (the author's apparent persona) and Simon have changed, however, since the time when they smoked pot with Annie in their warm Portland kitchen. Miserable at how embittered Simon has become as a lawyer, Erika has taken up with a callow young bartender. Then Paul Rousseau chooses Simon as his defense lawyer, and their lives are turned upside down. Inspired by the chance to make the system work for a man who gave up on the system, Simon joins forces with two other radical lawyers lo prove that the state is more ""terrorist"" than his relentlessly dogmatic friend. Erika dumps the bartender and collects Annie's kids, resolving to raise them when Annie (whom she tracked down and confronted) issues a statement and blows up a building to prove her unwavering commitment to the revolution. Shades of last year's film Running On Empty, but still a dud as a novel. Bushell aims for a revelatory ending--who are the true terrorists in this country? Alas, she is too timid to delve into the psychology of political violence, so her characters are one-dimensional, too self-righteous and wooden to inspire sympathy or belief.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1989
ISBN: 0915306824
Publisher: Curbstone--dist. by Talman (150 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011)