ANGIE, I SAYS by Avra Wing


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 Some first novels are so indebted to their influences that they cannot help but read like tributes to the Master, and here's a case in point: this first-person narrative about a mother-to-be dealing with an unexpected pregnancy is school of J.D. Salinger, all the way. The dirty mouth, the anxious bravado--it's something of a shock to discover that this narrator is no runaway teenager but a sexually experienced, 30-year-old woman with a steady job. Tina Scacciapensieri works as a secretary at a computer trade magazine in Manhattan; her best friend is her co-worker Angie, an older woman, pitifully loyal to a husband who beats her up. Tina's Italian father divorced her Jewish mother when she went crazy (officially). Tina also has a boyfriend, Vinnie Dopodomani, a self- employed plumber making good money; Vinnie is a sweet-natured guy, madly in love with Tina, and thrilled when she tells him she's pregnant. Problem is, Tina wants the baby but doesn't want to marry Vinnie, who's a bit of a sap; Tina is part liberated woman, part plain confused (``I feel I'm in some kind of fucked-up kid's game''). A chance meeting with an upscale lawyer, Noah Lieb, adds to her confusion; Tina is ready to flip over Noah but can't decide whether he's a flake (nor, apparently, can the author). Eventually, Tina gives Vinnie the heave-ho but goes ahead with the pregnancy; her son is born with a deformed arm. We leave Tina in conflict, loving baby, hating its deformity. Wing's strength is her observation of the tooth-and-claw infighting of family life; clearly she has talent, but it badly needs room to breathe.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1991
ISBN: 0-446-51580-9
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991