ANIMAL ACTS by Rhoda Lerman


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 Put this in the ``We haven't seen this topic before'' category: A woman finds herself only after she leaves her husband and her lover for a gorilla. Linda Morris is not happy: ``Whenever I felt I could no longer bear another moment of my marriage I would imagine my husband's funeral....'' In fact, Linda loves her affluent, entrepreneurial husband, Steven, but their relationship survives because they never probe it too deeply. For excitement, Linda has a lover she doesn't even like named John Banks, who may be an assassin. Linda's real problem? No self-identity. One night, Linda and Steven lie in bed discussing his most recent investment--a Coney Island horror house with a Rent-A-Pet gorilla. Suddenly, Linda can no longer face him, or John, or not knowing herself. She sneaks away in their old Suburban only to find her escape complicated by Moses the Rent-A- Pet in the back. The next morning she tries dropping the gorilla at the horror house, but Moses kills, in self-defense, the old carny in charge, and Linda can't bear to see him die at the hands of the authorities. So she embarks on a quest to smuggle him to Florida, where he can be shipped abroad. Many follow her: Steven, who has turned very ugly; John, who may prefer to see her dead than to see her get away; and hordes of fortune hunters who recognize Moses' resale value. Throughout this adventure, Linda and Moses forge an unusual bond that reveals her courage, sensuality, and strength, and justifies Linda's musings on the origins of life. If it seems obvious that gorilla would represent man, Lerman (God's Ear, 1989, etc.) creates a very different and refreshing metaphor via which Linda saving Moses means saving herself. Wry, beautiful, hilarious, brave. A little didactic when Lerman talks about men and women as different species, but not enough to weigh down this otherwise effortlessly profound tale.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8050-1418-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994