ROOTIE KAZOOTIE by Lawrence Naumoff


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This comic second novel from Naumoff (The Night of the Weeping Women, 1988)--about a love triangle in rural North Carolina--sometimes sinks into sitcom, but a good deal of on-target zaniness and snappiness carries the day. Caroline and Richard, who grew up in the same small town, have been married for 14 years, but Caroline senses that something is wrong: ""It's Dagwood and Blondie. That's what we're turning into."" She's obsessed with Cynthia, a rich divorc‚e for whom Richard works (carpentry) and with whom he's having an affair, she suspects. While Caroline worries about her midlife crisis (""I'm turning into one of those crazy women approaching forty you read about all the time""), Cynthia plots to take Richard away. Richard finally tells Caroline he intends to live with Cynthia, whereupon Caroline--whose southern excess makes the book--smashes a tractor through Cynthia's house and beats her up. The story then settles into a series of small-town instances: Caroline spies on Richard and Cynthia, tells ""the master plan of her life"" to a boozer, and, ""wearing Cynthia's new lingerie on her head,"" runs a woman and baby off the road, mistaking their car for Cynthia's. Eventually, following a dog, she comes upon Walker and Ellen, a couple squatting in a deserted house, and finds some peace: ""She had slept in the midst of the deer. They had protected her in the night."" Meanwhile, Cynthia's kids have moved in with her and Richard. When Caroline tells Richard she's pregnant, he calls Cynthia--surprise, she's also with child. ""They were all in trouble. Someone had to do something""--and Cynthia does: she kicks Richard out, and he returns to Caroline, ever the philosopher--""These were difficult times and even the most honest and good-hearted men and women made terrible mistakes."" Caroline is one of those creatures who takes over a book--this one, despite its flaws, is a lively paean to tenacity and vivacious optimism.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0374529841
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux