KILLING WONDER by Dorothy Bryant

KILLING WONDER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bryant (Prisoners) is that talented, self-publishing West Coast rebel against the imperial reaches of mega-publishing (here embodied in a power called ""Doubledom""); and this time, on apparent holiday from more serious work, she spoofs the book biz and her own literary world with an Orphan Annie-eyed narrative and a chestnutty murder-mystery format. The murder victim: India Wonder, much celebrated author of Emma Pride's Journal (not to be confused, of course, with Bryant's own Ella Price's Journal). And the suspects include a clutch of women writers who watch as India plummets, cyanide-wise, to the floor. There's Margot, who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the title of her forthcoming blockbuster. (Doubledom changes its mind, however, and the book is canceled.) There's Antonia, an old Leftist who accused India of anti-Left remarks and has a yen for India's husband Reuben. Plus: Yolanda, a competent muckraker who has lost her grant; Celeste Wildpower, an occultist who had been losing her influence over Catholic convert India; Carla, a rejected lesbian; Pamela Right-bottom, whose professor-father's sexual inadequacies were snickered at in India's Journal; Sylvia, who was inspired by India to ""make my deepest feelings live on paper"" but is now wretched with a broken marriage, diapers, and booze (""writing down every little problem. . . that's what did it""); and Jane, the real writer, whose many books have never brought home the subsidiary-fights bacon--forcing her to do ghost-writing, reviewing, and pickle-factory labor. The sleuth here is also, naturally, a writer--or at least an aspiring one. She's Jessie Posey, an India Wonder devotee who teams up with nice detective Jim to interview the writer-suspects and India's shady heirs (hubby Reuben and daughter Georgia). Jessie also searches for the ms. of India's secret-exposing new book and even enters India's departed consciousness, thanks to some of Celeste's ghostly gymnastics. (India's spirit, however, offers no murder clues--just literary advice borrowed from Anthony Trollope.) And there's the traditional flip-flop mystery denouement, bouncing from suspect to suspect. As a mystery? Fair-to-middling. As a send-up of the literary life? Good fun--even if limited in direct appeal to a mildly book-wise, mildly feminist, rather specialized audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1981
Publisher: Ata Books (1928 Stuart St., Berkeley, CA. 94703)