TRIP SHEETS by Ellen Hawley


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First-timer Hawley attempts to build a modern tale of self-exploration but can't make much out of her protagonist's psychological flimsiness. Midwestern twentysomething Cath Rahven creates a list of aims for the life she'd like to lead: quit her job as a cab driver, take seriously the mystery novel she's been working on, and become a lesbian. Though nearly all these goals are met in fairly short order, there's very little character development to show for it. After spurning men as sex partners, Cath goes to a goddessy poetry reading and spends the better part of the evening observing the lesbian dress code. When she does accept a few female lovers, they turn out to be just as difficult to get along with as men--and not necessarily any more enjoyable. Meanwhile, Cath's career change is helped by her degree in social work, which lands her a job in a halfway house for adults pushed to the fringe of society. But, much like her new sexual preference, her new career seems neither satisfying nor distressing, merely unfamiliar. When she does meet up with someone promising (a recently divorced nurse with a young daughter), it couldn't happen at a more stressful time--her father's in the hospital, and Cath's been forced to confront the differences between who she really is and the woman her family perceives her to be. Not so much conventionally novelistic as a random assortment of stories claiming the same protagonist. That part is okay, but the disappointment here comes from the huge emotional gaps.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1998
Page count: 235pp
Publisher: Milkweed