ROCKET CITY by Cathryn Alpert

ROCKET CITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Chatty, amiable first novel set in Alamogordo (``Rocket City'') New Mexico. Storywriter Alpert (Best of the West 5, etc.) offers two modestly skewed love affairs here. First, there's that of art- therapist Marilee Levitay, 25, a likable, ordinary woman who quits her job to chase after her boyfriend, a New Age twerp who works for the Air Force in Alamogordo. On her way across the White Sands Missile Range, she picks up a hitchhiker named Enoch, a dwarf who can walk only with crutches. Nothing could be more unlikely than an affair between these two, so, naturally, Alpert skewers the boyfriend, and after several gentle adventures, Marilee and Enoch have a wild night. Second, there's 40-year-old Louis T. Figman, a hypochondriac who works in LA as an insurance adjuster. He deals exclusively with ``accidental death and dismemberment'' but has managed to keep his emotional distance through the years, until one day he's involved in an accident himself. Simultaneously, Figman has convinced himself that he's dying, and, under an assumed name, he flees to Alamogordo, where he attempts, amusingly, to become a painter. He grows lonely and chases after a 20-year-old grocery clerk--who turns out to be as banal as the reader suspects she will--when right under his nose, with a salty older woman, true love awaits. Alpert crosses the two storylines just once, in a bar scene with a host of dwarves that brings to mind Katherine Dunn's Geek Love. Meanwhile, she runs her character all over the New Mexico backcountry but does little with rockets, military life, or the heritage of the atomic bomb. And her moral is exactly this profound: Love is where you find it. Still, boy-meets-girl never grows old, and, particularly with the ridiculous Figman, newcomer Alpert strikes a pleasing tone.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1995
ISBN: 1-878448-62-5
Page count: 347pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995