THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER by Julia Fierro

THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The summer of 1992 is pure hell on an insular islet off the coast of Long Island.

“GRUDDER IS CANCER / GRUDDER KILLS,” reads the graffiti on the local war memorial. Tensions flare on Avalon Island as a defense contractor called Grudder Aviation runs into economic and environmental problems. Dealing with the fallout both publicly and privately are three generations of the islands' most prominent families, who live on magnificent side-by-side estates. If an author is God to her characters, the people of Avalon must have done something to offend Fierro (Cutting Teeth, 2014). For lo, she hath visited upon them toxic waste; racial bigotry; class resentment; vandalism; children strung out on drugs watching snuff and porn videos; abusive fathers, husbands, and dog owners; senile dementia; a weak peacetime economy; the rise of Bill Clinton; murder; suicide; stillbirth; and, undoubtedly worst of all, a biblical plague of gypsy moth caterpillars, described over and over in excruciating detail. Young lovers take to the woods—and listen to “the cack-cacking of the caterpillars feeding and the patter of chewed-up leaves spat thousands at a time onto the forest floor.” Jeans are “spattered with [the] black slime” of caterpillar excrement, the little buggers are found in socks, bras, and ball gowns, there are “swarm[s] of caterpillars slithering across the window” and hands “slick with their gummy remains.” Still, as one character points out, "perhaps a plague was just what the island needed." To get them through these revolting times, the characters find inspiration in sources as diverse as the plot of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the essays of James Baldwin, and the radical enlightenment offered by Oprah: “After each Oprah episode, she was depleted. To have eighty years of preconceived notions shattered, and then rearranged, in just forty-five minutes.”

Jam-packed with stereotypes, bad sex scenes, and clichés of every kind, this book has something to appall almost anyone.

Pub Date: June 6th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08751-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2017




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