SEXUAL INTERCOURSE by Rose Boyt

SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Oedipal and Electra complexes among unlovely people in England--in a dreadful first novel by Freud's great-granddaughter. Desperately lonely Isobel lives with her tyrannical father, hoping to make something of her life and someday win his love. Her distant cousin Norman, who lives nearby with a mother who pampers him, is entirely content to be idle. While the two parents find partners and enter into passionate affairs, Isobel and Norman have sex once, in a garbage-strewn railway yard. Isobel becomes pregnant, refuses to marry Norman, and hopes a grandchild will cement the bond between her and her father. In the meantime, Norman is driven to his wit's end at the thought of losing his mother to her lover. The result is tragic--if the reader can be induced to care. Throughout, Boyt is often gleefully graphic, but whether describing the sex acts of people or of dogs, even when describing people, places and things, she focuses relentlessly on dirt, bodily exudations, disgust. In fact, when nothing loathsome happens, she points out the absence, as when ""No one burped or farted."" The diction of the narrative is often elevated, while the dialogue seems often to belong in comic-strip balloons. Occasionally, Isobel's voice takes over (sometimes for only a sentence or two) and narrates the story. Perhaps this method represents experimentation and serious literary intent; but the novel is so unappealing that it's easy to believe the author and/or editor simply stopped paying attention and lost track. A dismal try at grim humor.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1990
Publisher: Random House