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"I am the vacant space where other people drive their shames, disappointments, half-cock dreams; they leave them with Lily the Parking Lot." Such is life for the heroine of this second novel by Neil (As We Forgive, 1986)--which is just as dark as her first, a study of sexual obsession and the rapacious neediness of weak souls. Lily Teape is an orphan; happily, her Aunt Grace takes her in, but as Lily grows, she becomes nymphomaniac Grace's mainstay, her "Protector, her Improver of the Truth." Lily s a young woman when Grace takes up with the last in a long line of younger men, a sculptor, Johnny Cochrane, whose mean-looking junk/art constructions soon replace the Hepplewhite tables in Grace's flat. Lily, along with Grace's brother, Oliver, stands by tensely, hoping that Johnny won't deliver some final blow to Grace's precarious ego. Meanwhile, other troubles impinge: Oliver's diagnosed as terminally ill, and his blind son, Sebastian, feels increasingly unloved. Of course, Lily steps in, caring for both, and even falling in love with Oliver. When she learns that Johnny has abandoned a wife and two kids, it falls to Lily to tell Aunt Grace, to attend on Oliver's deathbed, and to cover for Sebastian, who tries to kill Johnny by starting a fire in his studio. And thus, Lily the Parking Lot endures. Neil strains credibility to the breaking point in her forced effort to create a desperate, combustible situation. Her linchpin character, Johnny, lacks the diabolic contours that might have galvanized the story--leaving it more a flat, black hole than a compellingly sinuous web.

ISBN: 06-039093-X
Publisher: HarperCollins
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