GHOST WAVES by James McManus


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McManus' fourth novel (Curtains, 1986; Chin Music, 1985; Out of the Blue, 1983) is the story of a 19-year-old girl who can't accept her mother's remarriage. Linda Krajacik was born in 1968, but never knew her father--he was killed that same year in Vietnam. Linda is fairly happy growing up in Chicago with her mother, Maggie, going to school to become an artist, dreaming of being a rock star, but all changes when Maggie decides to marry Richard Baum, a commodities broker nearly ten years her junior. Since Linda has regularly been having the ghost of her father appear to her (minus his legs, which were blown off by a land mine), she feels that Maggie is betraying the memory of her late husband. She protests against the marriage, but to no avail: she must move in with Richard and Maggie to Richard's showcase 12,000 square-foot loft. The novel breaks off into fragments as Richard alternately lusts after and despises Linda, as Maggie worries about getting pregnant and about looking too old, and as Linda continues to imagine--in graphic detail--elaborate scenes in which Richard gets his comeuppance. At the close, Linda moves out--but not before half-destroying her mother and stepfather's marriage. McManus is singing his same old song here--determinedly shallow and too often pretentious, with flashes of real talent that are usually obscured by verbal pyrotechnics.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Grove