DANCING ON CORAL by Glenda Adams

DANCING ON CORAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a loose-jointed and Candide-like morality tale, Australian-born Adams takes on the intellectual pretentions and affectations of the 60's. College student Lark Watter dreams only of escaping the provincial life of her native Sydney, where she lives with her parents: a mother who raises poultry in the backyard, and a lovably eccentric father who spends time building a wooden crate in the basement--in which, at book's end, he will ship himself C.O.D. to New York. By then, Lark will be in New York, too, having finished her own round-the-world journey to marriage, motherhood, and divorce. Here's how: at the university in Sydney, she will fall in with the well-connected but egregiously self-satisfied Tom Brown, an American who bills himself as a ""social theorist and critic of society,"" but who supports himself by patching together fabricated pieces of yellow journalism for the tabloid Strange but True. When he's threatened with lawsuits for these enterprises, Tom flies back to New York, followed by the smitten and naive Lark: she sails on a freighter, in the company of Tom's maliciously neurotic girlfriend, Donna Bird, daughter of world-famous (and fraudulent) anthropologist Manfred Bird, whose smuggled artworks, it turns out, the freighter is carrying. When the ship stops at a Pacific island for more ""cargo,"" Donna Bird ""accidentally"" gets left behind, and Lark goes on to rejoin and ""marry"" Tom Brown (""Hey,"" says the hippie minister as he ties the knot, ""That's neat-o, keen-o, far out, and groovy""). After some dramatically timed and threatening reappearances of Donna Bird; and after a tacked-on journey to France (where Tom's true superficiality is yet again revealed), Lark finds herself, at end, alone with her baby daughter in New York, although not clearly greatly wiser. Thin satire, with a plot that chugs endlessly on but has trouble bringing anybody to life--though the early sections at home in Sydney do have a living charm, and the book's centerpiece is vivid if gratuitous: when Donna and Lark, mid-voyage, walk on the crest of a coral reef, surrounded by the vast Pacific.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking