EATING CAKE by Meredith Marsh


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It's 1964 at Bennington College, but Marsh's students, rather than invading administration buildings, are stumbling about on that marvelously cloudy plain of personal identity searches. This is the odyssey of Leighton, one of the ""two acknowledged stars of the freshman acting class"" and the sort of girl who makes her friends' experiences her own--quite an order, considering her friends. There's ""Semily,"" a senior who is crazily thundering through an affair with the married drama prof. And there's fellow actress Vally, who has emotions ""out of a Russian novel"" as well as a ""beatnik"" lover and the ability to scale a tree naked (""None of his Radcliffe acquaintances could have pulled that off""); she also has the ruthlessness to drop lovers and friends at will. Leighton faithfully absorbs the racking vibes from both Vally's problems (including a botched suicide) and Semily's wildly orchestrated messes, while blundering herself through an off-and-on relationship with handsome, self-involved Simmons. Finally, after a triumph in acting class, Leighton learns to hold back from the love-and-sympathy gluttons and considers the uses of rationality in the forming of character. This is a more convincing and cagier book that Marsh's I Had Wild Jack for a Lover (1977), catching the flashy verbal flights of cool kids at hot visceral and cerebral peaks. A bit overblown, perhaps, but it's bright and empathic--and should circulate briskly on campus.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan