LAST DANCE by Lee Grove


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Three urban losers move through Grove's first novel, all of them working at a late-Seventies Boston disco. There's Paulie Crocker, fresh out of Harvard with a social-activist girlfriend and a set of parents coming apart at the psychological seams; instead of taking a respectable job, Paulie becomes a coat-check boy uniformed in a satin basketball suit. There's Mickey Winters, a gay go-go dancer at the club, disappointed in the fickleness of his lovers. And there's Merle Hanson, a Filene's-basement shoe-saleslady--who, part-time, sings standards in the disco's lounge area, much to her limitless artistic self-disgust. Merle dreams of a long-ago failed marriage, Mickey of a strenuously hoped-for decent future. . . and Paulie simply to get through the day without nervous breakdown. But, though Grove writes with a thick, demotic energy somewhat along the lines of Richard Price's, the novel stokes a small story-locomotive--consisting mostly of vignettes and set-pieces. Disappointing, too, are the frequent puddles of sentimentality, particularly when Merle is concerned. (""And she pitied and loved all those wallflower women writing, however frightening the gauntlet had been at first, waiting for something that would probably never happen, since it was the men who always got away, and not the women, it was always the men who left the women standing in the shadows to freeze with the vodka and keep warm with the gin. . . ."") A minor, flawed debut, then, but streaked with talent and street-wise verve.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Faber & Faber