ANCESTORS MAYBE by Elizabeth MacKiernan


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 An eerie, exhibitionistic little item, generally exasperating- -and exasperatingly quotable, prettily quixotic, and funny. It's all a fictional gumbo of wee paragraphs--notations concerning a houseful headed by three sisters named Marie. Marie Madeleine is a programmer, a wage earner (the only one in the family) who busses daily into Hartford, Connecticut (``It frequently occurs to her that someone has made a mistake''). Marie Celeste is devoted to European languages and the curious titles of heraldry (there is a burst of Swedish). Marie Angelique is an artist ``quite capable of painting wind.'' Meanwhile, Captain Stuart, the sisters' octogenarian father, motorcycles in from far places (``Walking across Mongolia is very wearying but at least it is Mongolia''), and their mother, Princess Yzumruda, traveling in her star-studded van, is very beautiful and of gypsy blood (her ``Ramshackle Magic seems to be enough''). There are other briefly glittering human oddments about--coming, leaving, feasting on holidays--and as events fly by like flashcards, there are also questions for the reader: ``Was it too late?'' ``What was that voice?'' And so on. There are, however, no firm answers: ``Not really.'' ``Not yet.'' ``Of course.'' And so forth. At the close (or at least when the paragraphs stop peppering), the household (their problem solved by a fanciful computer maneuver) fly off like birds. To stay the reader from miring in pixie quicksand or hurling the book, MacKiernan includes antic bits: e.g., a Marie imagines a queen honeybee lounging below deck who says, ``When winter comes, the drones will walk the plank--but not yet.'' Is this fiction too flighty for general use? Of course. Should one condemn it out of hand? Certainly not. Should one await further efforts with interest? Probably.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-930901-81-9
Page count: 160pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993