KINFLICKS by Lisa Alther


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Kinflicks has already had lots of previews; it's expected to do very well and if you're looking for an audience, try Shylah Boyd's American Made even if Shylah, while she talked just as much, wasn't quite as tonedeafening. To extend the points of reference: both girls come from the South; both have a liability/legacy in the form of a parent. Here it is Ginny Hull Babcock's spine-stiffening mother, who conferred on her all kinds of principles and inhibitions which impeded Ginny's own life as well as any feeling she might have had for her mother, now dying home in Hullsport, Tennessee, of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (can Joe Gannon pronounce that?). In between her vigils at the hospital, Ginny remembers all those kinflicks or home movies which were her mother's record of all the family firsts--the first tooth, the first smile. Ginny's own equivalents thereof include her time at Hullsport High as flag swinger and girl of football-playing Joe Bob who bulged all over, not necessarily at the right time. After more failed sex and sex redivivus, she went away to a small college, dropped out, had a good experience with Eddie (a girl) in New York and then at a Vermont commune, and finally went straight with Ira and had a baby until he threw her out for trying some further-out ritual coition with a real unreal freak. At the end her mother dies after all those dress rehearsals but she gives Ginny a nice send-off--shuck the past and ""Look after yourself, Ginny dear."" You're not quite sure how or where, nor is she. Author Alther can write--with lots of energy, humor she doesn't have to try for, and an awesome candor about the business of living and dying in between these waystops of experience. But she doesn't really make you care enough since her kinflick first novel documents more than it projects.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1976
Publisher: Knopf