CHEZ CHANCE by Jay Gummerman


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 Gummerman's first novel (the collection We Find Ourselves in Moontown, 1989) takes on the depravity of a commercialized Americabut remains more wooden than moving. At 34, Frank Eastman faces life as a paraplegic: He was working for the phone company in Anaheim, Calif., when rats jumped at him from the palm tree he was trimming, making him fall from his ladder. Now, six months later, he returns to Anaheim (from St. Louis, where he went to recuperate at his sister's place) to visit the scent of the accidentand to let author Gummerman stir up the mix of symbols in his allegorical tale. Traveling by wheelchair, Eastman checks into the Tradewinds motel, a dreary old relic from the 1950s that's suitable because it's just a few blocks from Disneyland, which Eastman claims he's eager to visit. His actual tour of the theme park, however, is perfunctory, allowing him, back at the motel, to get more involved in the affairs of the obese and inscrutable woman there who sells drugs to a trickle of customersincluding the homeless and dreadlocked ``Earthling,'' a thief who later breaks into Eastman's room and threatens him with rape. The woman sends Eastmanfor no really clear reasonto see the local drug kingpin known as ``Emperor,'' actually a slick young Asian manipulator named Jarvis, who treats Eastman to a long Grand Inquisitor-style monologue justifying his own criminality by placing the seeds of it in US policies in the Pacific up to Hiroshima. At end, on a bad acid-trip, Eastman will be rescuedand then abandoned at roadsideby the guitar-playing girl he met earlier at the airport and by her brother, the realtor, opportunist, and quintessential scumbag of marketing named Chance Slimp. A cry of outrage at economics-driven cruelty, rapine, and insensitivity in America; but with characters more thematically hyper-correct than felt naturally on the pulse.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-43991-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995