HEARTBREAK HOTEL by Gabrielle Burton


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Manic prose, typographical high-jinks, deliberate repetitions, unadorned news items, chants, lists--you name it. All the clichÉs and many of the incoherencies of experimental fiction here add up to a first novel that's really a ponderous piece of radical feminist agitprop guaranteed to baffle all but the fiercely committed. Welcome to the Heartbreak Hotel, a rest home for guides who work at The Museum of the Revolution, itself a place ""WHERE YOU TAKE LITTLE CHILDREN AND SHOW THEM GIRDLES AND MINISKIRTS AND GARTER BELTS AND SILICONED BREASTS AND FALSE FINGERNAILS AND RUBBER ASSES AND FOOTBINDING SHOES AND SEXIST REMARKS AND STEREOTYPED TEXTBOOKS AND PORNOGRAPHY AND STEREOTYPED TEXTBOOKS AND ALL THE WOMEN WHO DIED IN PREGNANCY AND ABORTION AND CHILDBIRTH"" and on and on. Meet the Hotel's current residents: Meg, a tough-talking cop who ""comes from the Clearasil Kiosk""; Maggie, a drunken translator who ""comes from an orphanage or broken home""; Daisy, an ex-nun and the present curator who ""comes from some kind of island""; Gretchen, a prissy cheerleader who ""comes from a one-horse town in the Midwest""; and Rita, a sexy belly-dancer who just ""comes and comes and comes."" Under attack by the CITY FATHERS, who want to close the museum and turn the hotel into a home for retarded boys, these women also pay wild vigil to one of their weird number--a hunchbacked albino in a coma from a motorcycle accident. But just when the surrealism and the browbeating begin to make some narrative sense, we discover that it's all the comatose vision of a woman who runs a small Pioneer Women museum on the outskirts of present-day Buffalo, New York--an Everywoman no less who ""looked back and saw the future."" Too bad it didn't work. On the evidence of this amateurish effort and last year's equally inept Beloved Gravely, by Christian Gehman, the Maxwell Perkins Award seems to honor novels that cry out for his deft editorial pen.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1986
ISBN: 1564781674
Publisher: Scribners