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Plant on Bloomsday and you get all blossoms and no fruits."" The application of Aunt Honey's statement to Magnolia (Maggie) Murphy is hard to figure since Maggie cultivates little except a chronic case of hives and our overstrained good humor as she proves again and again what a crackerjack reporter she is Despite the refusal of the male chauvinists in the city room to let her make the front page by the usual routes Maggie makes headlines by saving the life of the publisher, swinging Tarzan style to knock down his would-be assassin, and eventually gets fired for exposing the town's real-estate manipulators (this is Baghdad, Florida towards the end of the land boom). The joke is that this hell-raising newshound is too dumb to know a speak-easy when she's in one, and still looks up to her boyfriend, an ass named Otis Califer who lectures her on male superiority. After every escapade you expect Maggie to finally get the attention she deserves, but even at the conclusion, sister Baby steals her thunder with a slapstick shotgun wedding. Maggie's bulldozer burlesque of the Front Page girls she so idolizes generates a kind of elbow-waving hilarity. . . but only so long as you take each episode individually. Cumulatively, Maggie's naivete becomes wearying and you wonder how McNeer could work up so much steam over this little bit of pokeweed. A hyperventilated exercise in a played-out genre.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1976
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin