LIVE FROM EARTH by Lance Olsen


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This trendy little valentine of a novel reads so much like a reworking of a short story by Peter Nelson (called ""Coolie and Kedney""), published some years ago in the Iowa Review, that it makes one wonder just who Lance Olsen really is. At any rate, the author--be he pseudonymously concealed or not--is kind enough to credit Nelson on the dedication page here for supplying the book's chief and most cunning plot twist. But to begin at the beginning, the story is about the marriage of Bernard ""Bink"" Fischer and Clarissa Harlowe--as a friend of theirs puts it, it's ""a mythical marriage. You see maybe one of these in your lifetime, like Halley's comet, so look close."" They meet after Bink's tour of duty in Vietnam, at the University of Iowa, where Bink's in the Writer's Workshop and Clare's learning to paint. But, alas, their joy is short-lived. Bink dies in a plane crash, then, like Dona Flor's husband in Jorge Amado's 1969 novel, proceeds to appear to her from the great beyond. Clare does some heavy drinking and partying in an effort to get a handle on her cosmic spouse, then learns to let go, a process helped along by the wonderful fact that Bink's left a little cylinder of his sperm in the hospital fridge. Thus does Bink manage the amazing feat of impregnating his wife and becoming a father posthumously. The writing is fun though forcedly cute, the tale itself larded with meaningless filler--longer but not nearly so convincing as the very moving short story by Nelson that clearly inspired it.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Available/Ballantine