VERTICAL HOLD by Laurel Bauer


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An upscale Mary Hartman--but with no recognizable springboards for more robust satire--Bauer's first novel (a ""comedy of misperceptions"") may be far too clever for its own good. Although we are informed on page one that the Long Island village of Lynford has been chosen by a TV network as a model of suburban living, the suburban scene presented provides few familiar signposts. Instead, Bauer languorously presents her cast of offbeat characters, among them Jake, a Jew obsessed with following the less familiar customs of his religion. Also floating in and out of this elegantly incoherent novel: an immobilized single mother; a vain and insensitive newscaster; a door-to-door evangelist; a rich adolescent thief; and a would-be black revolutionary. All of the above might be amusing enough if the reader could discern Bauer's comic intention; but, unfortunately, her characters seem tied together by little more than appearance in the same book. Ironically, what was apparently conceived as a satire of a media-massaged suburban world ends up less gratifyingly revealing than the plainest of straightforward documentaries. Hyper-self-conscious and irritating.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's