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Though Gordon's stow, about coming-of-age as a sexually active female, is finally too formless, it's full of lively anecdotal sequences having to do with the tension between a young woman's attempt to find herself and her victimization by her impulses and her environment. Jane Turner, brought up by affluent Baltimoreans, is sex-soaked from the beginning (""I masturbated every night from age beyond memory""). Her father raises hothouse orchids, and her mother sees Dr. Zwilling, her analyst, several times a week. In the meantime, Jane, deciding that at ""eight I was still in love with my father, bat he was no longer in love with me,"" takes to deviling him with smart-aleck remarks, all the longing for ""the forbidden street, the hardened river of popular time."" Gordon quickly gets her into a 1949 Dodge and links her up (in Harmonia Springs, where she is sort of attending a small college) with Jimmy, who tells her he's ""not just a male."" They move into a deserted house and entertain a menagerie of eccentrics and freaks. Eventually, Jane is raped: ""she would cry, if crying were in her repertory."" She goes to the cops, who arrest the rapist but release him (he's married, it's her word against his) after she takes an inconclusive lie-detector test where she feels like the criminal. Then, after a pause to tell us her parents' story--they're separated by now--Jane is off to California, where she finds Jimmy, works as a bartender, and decides to ""be a poet the rest of the time."" After getting published in G.R.O.P.E., she goes through a dark night of the body--which ends only after violence and a final epiphany in jail, where she imagines killing everyone, including her father. There isn't enough artistry here: the book, full of undigested life, too frantically hurtles us through adventures in a tone that is sometimes whimsical, sometimes arch.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1990
ISBN: 0929701364
Publisher: Algonquin