FIGHTING BACK by Ronni Sandroff


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A truly odd book, with a sometimes effective, sometimes intractable juxtaposition: a plot born to be pulp in a style born for better things. Jeanie Burger of N.Y. is a drop-out from the Church of All--a Moonie-like clan led by the charismatic Eli Zinger and Jeanie's weird husband Dennis--and she has enough evidence on the Church ""to send them up the river for fifty years."" The Church wants that evidence back (proof of CIA/drug connections?) before frightened Jeanie spills it to TV personality Eddie Market, so they kidnap Jeanie's daughter, luring Jeanie to their N.Y. hotel headquarters, where they keep brainwashing her with the aid of a hypnotic vapor till she's rescued by her friends and lover. . . . A hogwashy scenario, but the acute dialogue and sleek narrative reaffirm the promise shown in Sandroff's 1975 debut, Party Party/Girlfriends. Moreover, Jeanie is real--especially in her recollections of the Communist parents who brought her up ""to expect to change the world""--as are her sympathetically cynical lover and her leftist friends at the supermarket (she's a checker). Too rich a cast for swift action-suspense. So, though Sandroff's shrewd, spare style at first helps to generate threat-ful mystery, her desire to dig deep soon starts clashing with the cloak-and-daggering--and, tit for tat, the plot machinations repeatedly undermine our involvement with Jeanie's intriguing yet fuzzed-over state of mind. Certainly Sandroff sees a parallel between Jeanie's political heritage and her current dilemma: to-fight-or-not-to-fight, even at personal expense. But the link doesn't really hold up, leaving a half-finished character adrift in a book she's too good for, waiting till the gifted Ms. Sandroff can perhaps tackle her full-face or head-on.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1978
Publisher: Knopf