RAIN by Kirsty Gunn


Email this review


 A short debut novel with plenty of sparkle and flash but little substance. The New Zealand-born Gunn, a CondÇ Nast freelancer now living in London, speaks in the voice of Janey, a child entrusted to care for her little brother (nicknamed ``Jim Little'' by their mother, ``because I'll never let you grow'') while her parents live in drunken glamour by a lake. That's about all of the plot. Gunn relies on image after image to relate those days of freedom, and sometimes danger, but the effectiveness of the images is split about 50-50. Moreover, the childlike voice is too precious, simultaneously all-knowing and stingy with the small pieces of plot it does leak out. The relationship between Jim Little and Janey, who is seven years his senior, is an unlikely one, both because it is so chummy and because she is so reverent of him. ``He shook his head away when I wanted to place my hand on his silky hair, feel how warm it was, how it smelled of sunshine and sand and clean water. `I'm not a girl.' '' He also sounds surprisingly prissy at times, as when the two are fantasizing about what they would like for dinner: `` `I imagine some toast,' said Jim Little. `Perhaps I imagine it. With jam. Perhaps with chocolate spready and jam.' '' Some of the weakest writing is about the duo's mother, who is presented as a beautiful chimera who lavishes love on Jim but remains out of reach. ``We're their living, heaving seed,'' Janey laments in one particularly overwrought passage. Still, even if all the writing here were up to the standards of the best sections, like Janey's discussion of how children's books about kids going wild have planted the idea in her head that she and her brother might live outside on the beach permanently, it would still tax one's patience with its coy resistance to presenting anything openly. Like a sun-shower, this is fleeting and leaves no mark. (First serial to Grand Street; author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-87113-592-2
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


FictionFEATHERSTONE by Kirsty Gunn
by Kirsty Gunn
by Kirsty Gunn