THOSE GIANTS: Let Them Rise! by Erika Duncan

THOSE GIANTS: Let Them Rise!

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A murky soul journey--an interior monologue of remorseless density--during which a woman returns (in fact or fancy?) to her childhood home, reliving: a generally miserable existence; her release into the love of a real giant; and at last her taking on the role as patroness and comforter of ""lonely innovative artists"" in a ""cruel conforming world."" Her once-obese body swathed in gift clothes from her adoring artists, Melanie is on her way, via bus and subway, to her mother Laura's house in the Queens section of N.Y.C. She arrives and then leaves again as her life-review pounds on within. (In this strained Proustian effort one simple action--like a hand poised over a door knocker--can set off eight pages of gluey meditations.) Laura, the psychoanalyst, ""great healer of the human heart,"" broadcasting her own passions, used to rage at Theodore, her failed husband, and Melanie, urging them to respond with passions of their own. ""Listen to the ocean's sobbing as it beats against the wornaway unfeeling shore,"" Laura would cry to the child Melanie, who was not able to respond, death-obsessed since her father died. When a teenager, love arrives for Melanie in the huge person of Gabriel, who meets Melanie in a bookstore while she is doing her suicide research. With his intense absorption in painting, and collecting ruins, deformities, suffering bodies, brightly colored martyrs, fiery madonnas, etc., Gabriel, doomed to die young as giants do, takes in Melanie: ""Your fat is something powerful to me."" But Melanie will taint Gabriel's ""saintly"" mother with the knowledge of the giant's impotence--and he turns away. At home Laura is having an affair with Theodore's first wife. After the home-journey Melanie will continue as artist-patroness, conferring her ""magical ambiance"" but understanding now that beyond the myth of the ""impossible grandeur"" lies the infinitely beautiful human animal. A hint of potentially acute perceptions here but enormously self-indulgent and overblown. Overlook.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Schocken