LOU IN THE LIMELIGHT by Kristin Hunter


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The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou, the teenage singing group formed in the 1968 novel of that name, here hits the road to the big time after the success of their single, ""Lament for Jethro,"" commemorating the friend killed by a policeman in the earlier volume, Herded about by their small-time but slick, hypocritical white manager, forced into tacky dance routines and ""faggoty"" satin costumes (or, for Lou, sexy gowns and dreadful wigs) by a professional ""imagist"" who travels with them, fed pills to keep them going, the group performs in New York and then Las Vegas, where they become increasingly victimized by the more powerful casino boss who advances drugs and gambling credit to keep them in his debt. Early on Lou and Frank, one of the Soul Brothers, embark on a loving affair, but Lou effectively loses Frank to the casino's attractions. Worried about the group's demoralization and outraged by a porn movie offer and a bedroom visit (arranged by her manager) from an important promoter, Lou takes the advice of a motherly, straight-at-heart casino prostitute, sends home for Jethro's mother (her own, more rigid mother's best friend), and exchanges testimony for legal help from a US attorney out to bust the casino owners' crime ring. The group later tours the black South, managed by a retired, smaller-time black promoter who offers them a middle way between big-time corruption and not singing at all--but at last Lou's strained endurance and dependence on pills lands her in hospital in the very town her mother had left as a young girl. Hunter's view of the seamy side of the limelight will interest young pop music devotees, and she is convincing in tracing the course of Lou's exhaustion and drug dependence. Yet she is simplistic and moralistic in representing the voices of virtue, and heavy-handed in laying down the story's basic conflicts. And Lou's pie-in-the-sky happy ending--she's adopted, in the Southern town of her roots, by a cultivated and musical spinster cousin who will put her through college and point her toward a better life--disqualifies the story as a serious novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1982
Publisher: Scribners