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There's a funky domestic intimacy about this account of a middle-aged hippie trying to hang on to his youthful ideals and his gorgeous 21-year-old girlfriend who wants a job on Wall Street. Contrived yippie vs. yuppie conflict? In part, but Dick Howser, the first-person narrator of ad-exec Palmer's first novel, is a shrewd and engaging character. He's overweight, runs a junk store in Woodstock, N.Y., and is deep into midlife crisis and annoying power games, but he also has a heart, taking in both Leslie Zack, a senior at the local college who needs lodging after her dorm burns down, and his long-lost ten-year-old son Howard, a love child, who has hated him for having been an absentee dad and who shows up with his mother's ashes stored in a peanut brittle can. Dick, your basic lonely guy, adores both kids; but the sex scenes between him and the rather vacuous Leslie are more acrobatic than emotional, and the prose is excessively purple at times. More heartfelt is the bonding that finally takes place between father and son. ""Howard, please forgive me! Please let me love you!"" Dick tearfully implores. Howard, meanwhile, has his eye on Leslie as a replacement mom. He joins Dad in a complex conspiracy to keep her at home, protected from naughty New York City -- whose latest serial criminal is the dreaded ""Butt Biter."" One strategy by the senior Howser involves a ""love strike,"" in which Dick ignores Leslie, assuming a ""Shamanic State of Consciousness"" -- separating his mind from his body. But eventually the varied plans backfire badly, in large part because Dick, fearing bad karma throughout eternity, needs to confess. A crude, sexist, sometimes homophobic fairy tale, but often great fun -- like the mud of Woodstock Nation.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1994
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harmony