MERRY-GO-ROUND by Joyce Thompson


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Despite some cute-sexy, contemporary-relationship trappings, this romantic comedy is basically a Frank Capra-ish trifle--with a noble hero who fights small-town villains, befriends youngsters, and gets the girl. He's narrator Schuyler (Sky) Rykken, a depressed MIT grad-student dropout (frustrated over not being the smartest guy in the program) who has recently split with girlfriend Barbara, a rising career-woman. So when Sky learns that he has inherited some cash and an Oregon merry-go-round from one Jack Willets--the secret lover of Sky's long-widowed, recently-deceased mother--he picks up and moves to the tiny burg of Kilchis, Oregon. He finds the still-functional merry-go-round, a gorgeous relic of a bygone, washed-away seashore community, and puts it back into operation. (Tiny profits ensue.) He falls for local waitress/artist Marty--who creates beautiful new frescoes to decorate the carousel. But there are both romantic and business complications: Sky and Marty (soon pregnant) must wrangle through familiar stuff about roles, independence, and bread-winning (Sky gets a janitor job, Marty declines to sell her paintings); a local power-broker wants to turn the seashore into a condominium community--so, when Sky idealistically refuses to sell, the bad guys retaliate with pranks, harassment, the killing of Sky's cute cat, and other threatening nastiness. And thus it takes a while to get to the inevitable happy endings: marriage, a graphic emergency-childbirth scene, a big town-hall confrontation, and the ironically fateful fade-out. An essentially sweet-natured tale, then: ecology and carousels vs. big-business, love triumphing over hangups. But Thompson delivers it in an aggressively slick form--Sky's cutesy-hip narration, celluloid-ish dialogue, cartoonily eccentric characters (paging Ruth Gordon)--and the upshot is a mostly pleasant commercial hybrid that finally seems far less genuine than similar work by Avery Corman, Hollis Hodges, and others.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Crown