TANAQUIL by Donald Windham


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Two vegetables going into a stew who would never grow in a garden again."" So one character intones over the lives of Frankie and Tanaquil Le Messina--and if the remark seems almost sensible but not quite, so it goes generally with this hook. Frankie, who has postponed entering Yale and instead has been almost unconsciously initiated into the Boston homosexual underground, comes to New York in the Fifties and promptly meets Tanaquil Joffrion, a bit-part actress and waitress. They marry and, after a hitch in the Coast Guard, Frankie becomes an apprentice to Joseph Page, a successful photographer who encourages the handsome youngster toward his own career (though Windham could just as well have made Frankie into a fry-cook; his soul is unclearly marked). Commercial success follows, but also artistic non-recognition--which all equals a sad, mixed-up Frankie and a stolid, ever faithful and positive Tanaquil backing him up. Plain and un-sauced, you have soap opera here, but Windham also wants to render--à clef--the New York art world and also perhaps advance the unspoken argument that Frankie would've been better off back in bed with the Boston boys. A drab, somnambulistic performance, a burdened book.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston