A slice of life and lots of sex, in a fourth from McFadden (This Bitter Earth, 2002, etc.).
Campbell writes in her journal, “Ain’t no man ever going to make me cry.” Her mother, Millie, does little but clean house obsessively and mutter about her husband Fred’s cheating. Luscious, a 400-pound neighbor woman, who’s got nothing better to do than warm the vandalized benches around the Brookline housing projects, says it’s a crying shame, but Millie married Fred just because she was afraid of becoming a spinster, cuddling cats in her lap ’stead of babies. Campbell doesn’t know what to do but watch her mother weep and keep on bringing those little yellow pills (Valium) she takes every day. A move to a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that the family buys holds an unpleasant surprise: a creepy tenant. This peppermint-sucking public masturbator is Clyde Walker, and just the way he looks at her makes Campbell nervous. But he promptly moves on, to everyone’s relief, replaced by flamboyantly gay Clarence Simon and his lover Awed Johnson: an abusive bisexual who cheats right and left on swishy, pathetic Clarence, whom Campbell likes—one more reason for her not to trust nobody. An abrupt segue leads to Luscious’s childhood memories of rape and abuse by a fat pimp, and, moving right along, there’s also Solomon, son of Grammy, a witchy old lady. Sickly and spoiled, Solomon grows up to father Donovan, Campbell’s eventual love interest. Sensually loving romps start turning into a relationship—but, hey, looks like Donovan has a commitment problem, when he ditches her at the airport before their flight to the Caribbean. Not even his ever-loving Grammy, who still cleans his apartment, knows the truth: That as a boy Donovan was repeatedly molested by Grammy’s boarder, Clyde Walker, the peppermint sucker. Campbell writes poems about her broken heart.
Sordid and incoherent, from a talented writer who’s done much better. (Warning: fairly graphic descriptions of adult-child sex.)