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ANTHROPOLOGY OF AN AMERICAN GIRL by Hilary Thayer Hamann Kirkus Star


by Hilary Thayer Hamann

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-385-52714-9
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Closely observed, Holden Caulfield–ish story of teendom in Manhattan and its purlieus in the age of Me.

Active in the film-festival business, Hamptons denizen Hamann self-published Anthropology in 2003 and immediately found a following, mostly among collegiates, selling approximately 5,000 copies in cloth. This much-revised version retains all the admirable qualities of the original but expands on aspects of the story line, giving protagonist Eveline Aster Auerbach plenty of room to move. Eveline is bright, precocious and a touch confused. It being the late 1970s, her family life is a touch confused as well, forcing some choices along the way—for instance, whether to prevaricate in order to keep the peace. “Lying is a full-time occupation,” Eveline decides, “even if you tell just one, because once you tell it, you’re stuck with it. If you want to do it right, you have to visualize it, conjure the graphics, tone, and sequence of action, then relate it purposefully in the midst of seemingly spontaneous dialogue.” Eveline is a great explainer of things as they are, whence the “anthropology” of the title, and the ways of her tribe are sometimes strange indeed, with such things as date rape and drug use being as common as coffee. The details are exactly right, down to the depressing air of a high-school hallway. Life forces its lessons on Eveline constantly; she finds herself confronting illness, death, grief, myriad fears and worries, and there’s always a heightened awareness of sex and sexuality, of the power of her body to gain what she wants and to betray her.

Intelligent and without a false note—a memorable work.