THE SUN MAIDEN by Erika Taylor


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 Taylor's bizarrely entertaining debut features a young down- and-out waitress whose involvement with an Israeli fugitive, a .357 Magnum, a ditsy busboy, his schizophrenic brother, and a pet rat named Fear can lead only to trouble--an original, witty, giggle- provoking L.A. story. Twenty-year-old J.O. is having trouble keeping her waitress job at the Sun Maiden diner three miles outside of Hollywood. Not only is she always late, but packets of Sweet'N Low keep falling out of their pocket in her shoulder bow, her cap is invariably wrinkled, and she rarely makes it through a shift without mixing up the customers' orders or spilling coffee on someone's dress. Rafi, the Israeli night-manager, suggests she try shooting his .357 Magnum to counterbalance her sense of inadequacy. J.O finds she likes guns, and begins accompanying her boss to the shooting range while the two engage in an increasingly serious affair. Though J.O. suspects that Rafi, with his gun collection and clandestine meetings with eccentric strangers, is probably up to something illegal, she's too distracted by her crazed roommate, a self- dramatizing actress; their landlord, an old man obsessed with creating the Car of the Future; and the search for her long-absent father, which brought J.O. from Manhattan to L.A. in the first place, to pay much attention. In the end, Rafi flees to Israel to avoid the feds, leaving J.O. to struggle alone (and, as it turns out, more or less triumphantly) with her roommate's romantic troubles, her landlord's involvement with loan sharks, a busboy's desire to save his insane brother's life, and the fact that her father, the man responsible for naming her ``Jambalaya Orleans'' back in the early 70's, seems to have forgotten that she exists. Sharp-witted black comedy by a promising 26-year-old novelist.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-689-12130-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991