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THE ALMANAC BRANCH by Bradford Morrow


by Bradford Morrow

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-73932-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Morrow's teasing, psychologically dense second novel (after Come Sunday, 1988)about the neurotic lives of a rich American familybetrays its early promise in favor of endless literary avant-garde posturing. No wonder Grace Brush sees visions when she has a migraine: The daughter of Fawthe mysterious multinational business magnate who founded Geiger (known familiarly as ``The Sprawl'')and Erin, his cipher wife, Grace lives at the center of a nebulous web of untruth. Author Morrow, editor of the literary magazine Conjunctions, begins on a high note with Grace's childhood hallucinations, which prompt Faw to move the family to Shelter Island, at the tip of Long Island. There, the family quickly disintegrates; mother Erin starts an affair; Grace's brother Desmond dies in a fall; and Grace's migraine trances soon include Desmond's spirit as her incestuous lover. Flashing to the future in this soap-opera, Grace's other brother Berg creates a pornographic film about the one true incestuous moment he witnessed between Desmond and Grace. Berg eventually sinks to blackmailing his own family, threatening to reveal Faw's illegal profit-siphoning activities, in order to complete the movie. But Grace stonewalls him, and this airless effort comes to a feeble close. Plotted for maximum tease value to entice the reader on this convoluted journey but offering too little rewardperhaps because there's not enough substance to this particular rich and neurotic family.