ISABEL OUT OF THE RAIN by Catherine Gammon


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Feverish, self-consciously literary first novel centered on a burnt-out case and the teen-aged runaway who brings him--and his ghosts--back to life. Russell Jackson was traumatized by his alcoholic mother, his experiences as a do-gooder in war-torn Vietnam, two divorces (one wife ran off with his best friend, warrior-mystic Santana), and his half-brother Cheyenne's attempt to kill him. Then starving runaway Isabel approaches him in the rain with an offer of sex for sale; Russell's heart opens, and he shelters her in his Brooklyn loft. But who is Isabel and was their meeting really by chance? When she suddenly claims to be his daughter, is this just one of her self-protective lies? Is she Santana's daughter? Cheyenne's lover? In an often phantasmagoric narrative that doubles back on itself and constantly shifts time and place, characters speak and think in a staccato, telegraphic style while their experiences overlap: all have alcoholic (or unmentionable) mothers; sons have been abandoned by their fathers, daughters sexually abused. Gammon's enigmatic literary stylistics and metafictional conceits, tiresomely excessive over the long haul, work most effectively in the prologue, ""Trespass"" (originally published as a short story in The Iowa Review), which shows the descent into drunken madness of a literary intellectual and the man she picks up in a bar--a deadly encounter (blamed on Derrida!) that becomes crucial to the novel. A debut revealing more talent than judgment.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1991
Publisher: Mercury House