MATRICIDE by Carla Tomaso


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Nothing new in this lesbian love story replete with violence, sexual abuse, flashbacks, and lots of bad poetry from Tomaso (The House of Real Love, 1992). A 30-year-old high-school teacher, suffering from the most recent of a long string of romantic break-ups, lies in bed chain-smoking Kents, picking her cuticles, and dreaming of taking a butcher knife to her mother's throat. Even though she can't imagine anyone who could make her feel better -- since ""everybody any good, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Colette, was already dead"" -- she answers the phone when a friend calls and invites her to a summer writers' conference for women only. Our unnamed protagonist goes with the idea of channeling her passion into poetry instead of hopeless affairs, but soon finds herself falling for Blaire, an older woman and Pulitzer Prize--winning poet. Blaire wants her for a muse and gives her more attention than she deserves for writing ditties like ""A dinner party/Ends./The guests are staring/At each other,/Still chewing..../Driving north on/Highway One/You imagine/Yourself/Turning the wheel/Sharply to the/Left/And flying/At last."" This relationship too looks doomed; readers soon clue into the fact that Blaire is a mother substitute when the narrator begins remembering her mother visiting her room late at night, putting fingers in her body and hands over her mouth -- this, she realizes, is the reason she tried to kill her mother 10 years ago. Blaire suggests they confront the abuser, but salvation comes not because the mother admits or apologizes. Instead, a lurid plot twist gives the narrator enough courage to walk away from more than one problem woman in her life. Too many themes jammed into one pointless and predictable volume.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Plume