NAME THE BABY by Mark Cirino


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Confessional debut novel—first published and hailed in Britain—by a 27-year-old former New Yorker who lives in Italy. Told in a far more vulgar voice than Holden Caulfield’s, and without the wit of Bright Lights, Big City, this one-string tale doesn—t catch quickly on the heart. The monotonous narrative tone is unrelieved first-person-aggrieved. A three-day odyssey set in NYC opens with 21-year-old Sam fleeing the suicide of his girlfriend Leonia, who shot herself through the mouth in the bathroom. Emotionally chaotic, he floats through Soho clubs on the strength of a credit card, his driver’s license, a cheap harmonica, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and magic mushrooms reverbing on his brain. —Worst thing I ever did was not throw up,— Sam says, ——cause the next day I could taste the puke way down deep.— In between retching (—I—ll drink until I—m all fucked up, down, diagonal and dangling—), he looks up Nicole, his well-heeled ex-high-school-girlfriend, who reveals that after their affair ended she had to have an abortion--the unnamed baby of the title. But Sam’s main challenge, which he’s been running from or trying to drown throughout, is his need to come to terms with Leonia’s death and his role in her suicide. As he puts it, —Like the whiskey that my body refused to accept (and I don—t really blame it), it was impossible to digest my recent history, and certainly impossible to even think about what I was going to do in the future.— Sam isn’t a guy you’d hang out with unless you were handcuffed to him and the key lost, though he does read Blake and Ishiguro. —The interesting thing about urine is that it starts out nice and hot, but turns cold real fast, just like any other liquid.— Yeah.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-49159-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998