JUMPING THE GREEN by Leslie Schwartz


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An extraordinarily impressive newcomer surveys the emotional riptide of obsession and its release in art. To casual observation, Louise Goldblum seems to have the world by the tail: At only 30 she’s a rising star, exhibiting her sculptures to acclaim and preparing for San Francisco museum installation. The exterior success, though, barely conceals her personal anguish and the rapid spiral her life takes after the murder of her sister Esther. A seesaw between past and present, much of the narrative deals with the unconventional early lives of the Goldblum clan: parents Maggie and Harold awash in a haze of smoke, pills, and booze as compensation for disillusionment, and their five brilliant children left to raise themselves in the sex and drug banality of California suburbia. It is oldest sister Esther—wild, beautiful, and willful—around whom the family orbits. When her naked body is discovered in a motel room, mild-mannered Louise launches a journey into memory and self-annihilation in a misguided effort to reclaim the romantically dangerous spirit of her sister. When she meets Zeke in a bar, she intuits her destruction. He takes her home, ties her up, and photographs her battered body after sex. The two embark on a sadomasochistic relationship that becomes increasingly ruthless and distracts Louise from the loss of the person she loved most in the world. Slowly she rebuilds her past in the museum’s installation, re-creating a childhood trip, though the results are hardly cathartic as she fashions a macabre tableau including a sculpture of Esther, dead animals, and pornographic photos. Rarely sober, often bruised from her brutal encounters with Zeke, Louise finds herself at the precipice as she makes one last attempt to relive her sister—and has the fierce realization that Esther belonged to no one. An intriguingly subtle treatise on sex and death and the shadow companion of love. First-timer Schwartz is a talent to watch.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85589-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999


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