OCEAN FRONT by Douglas Wallop


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Rape is a crime of swift and jagged violence. The author of The Year The Fankees Lost the Pennant tries for a change-up, and so he draws the aftermath of rape as a long, surging series of individual crises in the lives of the people connected with the victims. There are two: Linda Braxton, who was hauled from her bed by a prowler and raped after a pistol whipping, and Linda's husband Paul who had not moved to save her fast enough because of the shotgun aimed at his head. Linda's ounds heal rapidly, but Paul's humiliation goes on endlessly. (In terms of good storytelling, Paul's ordeal is over-established -- with every encounter of friends, employers, teachers, relatives who must assure him that he did the right thing. And then their stories must be told, too.) It is the fathers of the couple who supply the two main subplots and the contrast of Linda's brutish, hate-filled father with Paul's gentle father is an indication of the novelistic black on white in extremis. Their stories never really mesh and the focus of reader sympathy is continuously arred as first one and then the other pushes Linda and Paul off stage and into the wings to emerge at last tougher, stronger and meaner.... In Lost Summer (1958 p. 76) Christopher Davis dealt with the emotional and psychological backwash of rape with a terse realism and an avoidance of the symbolic trappings that bring Ocean down to low tide of reader interest.

Publisher: Norton