WALKING INTO THE RIVER by Lorian Hemingway


Email this review


A first novel by Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter, with the requisite dim biographical echoes and a touch of Hemingway-iana, like sport-fishing and the African big-game hunting scene. But that's where the similarities to Papa stop: This is really a story about a woman's battle with mental illness and a few associated problems to boot--alcohol abuse, sex dependency, a penchant toward violence, etc. Little Eva Elliott of Yazoo City, Mississippi, inherits troubled genes (mother Rim is a drunk; father likes to kill things and dress in women's lingerie). Add to this a family setting that's about as cozy as a snake pit--thanks to the fact that her stepfather beats his wife--and you can understand why Eva grows up with a death wish rather than a collection of Barbie doll clothes. The only source of normalcy in her life is Aunt Freda, whom she often visits in Arkansas--though Freda isn't exactly June Cleaver since she urges an early sexual initiation on Eva and once almost killed Eva's awful stepdad. It's as a teenager that Eva begins to behave oddly herself, a victim of violent rages. One such episode lands her in a hospital for the insane, and from there it's all downhill--shock treatments, a rape attempt, and, later, the terrible realization that she's become a clone of her alcohol-pickled mother. Rigorous, at turns effectively dramatic, full of imagery from the bottom of a dirty terrarium and yearning after the literary South. Hemingway has promise--perhaps especially now that she's got this bitter pill out of her system.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster