SEASON AT COOLE by Michael Gregory Stephens


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Coole"" is a country, a madhouse, cloud-cuckooland. . . a family. An incredible, disgusting, glorious family of Long Island Irish psychotic drunken dreamers, natural communists and slobs. And this book, a love-hate song to them, becomes an upside-down accordion riff on the whole idea of family or tribe, ethnic and American. The Cooles have imported the rich Irish madness and the two curses of babies and drink (though the younger half of the nine kids prefer grass and acid). There's father Leland, all tyrannous illogic; mother Rose, who lies drunk in the dirty laundry, confessing to the Virgin; Leland Jr., obscenely fat, murderous, pathetic and paranoiac (but in high school ""he could make a leper ring his bell with laughter""); sickly Emmet, skinny alley-cat of the underworld; Sandra-Sam who looks Italian and runs with tattooed hoodlums; and quite a few more. They have gracious Kennedy-family fantasies, they write on the walls, they wet their beds, they have incestuous and homicidal (especially patricidal) fantasies about each other and about their crazy redheaded aunts (nicknamed Quif and Quire). To a man they dream of escape, yet are fatally bound to the house which Mickey Mack, the writer son and eye of the storm, calls ""a museum, literally, of natural history"" -- a kind of inverse, perverse health in the midst of suburban cancer. A bravura novel, funny and wild (or distasteful?) and language is its pole star, language that careens with a mad sweet Irish lilt.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1972
Publisher: Dutton