DUCKS by Helen Hodgman


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First US publication for a younger British novelist: a plotless novel, arranged in dozens of short takes, that watches a mixed bunch of characters muddling through, English style, in a world defined by random violence and shifting sexual preferences. Meet Moss, Hazel and Elvis. They live together in South London. Moss had a husband called Harold, who skedaddled to faraway India; that was before Hazel, from a farther away Australia, moved in. Moss now fancies women, is she wasting her time with Hazel? Hard to tell. Hazel has had two husbands; she watched the first one die on the TV news. The second one, a French-Canadian in Vancouver, is planning on buying a gun and flying to London to shoot her. Hazel goes both ways; right now she is going crazy about a guy called Walter, who has six kids and a wife, Daphne, who writes novels like this one. Mean-while, Moss's little boy Elvis has been visiting a drug addict called the Bogeyman, who will later chop up a Salvadoran girl and stash her in the freezer. Lucky Elvis; he survives intact, unlike Rupert, Waiter's eldest, who, flying too high on his favorite amphetamine, takes a tumble and goes into an irreversible coma; and unlike Harold, too. The latter, back from India, is electrocuted while fleeing a militaristic cult, chopped up (again!), and fed to the eels. Hodgman's short novel is as long as a month of Sundays and as irritating as a dripping faucet.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harmony/Crown