SUCH NICE PEOPLE by Sandra Scoppettone

SUCH NICE PEOPLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Scoppettone wants you to meet the Nash family of Logan, Pa.--a clean-cut, well-fed, all-American clan with seething craziness just beneath the surface. Cole, the father: over-protective of the kids, inhibited, zombie-like, pops Valium, is bitter about giving up a hot affair, dreams of escape. Mother Anne: daughter of an alcoholic, miserable, longing to consummate an affair with nice Jim. Older daughter Kit: normal, a little over-hungry for sex maybe. Younger daughter Sara: fat, compulsive eater, feels deprived of love because of older siblings growing up and away. Likewise younger sons Steven and Max: Steve's a marijuana freak, Max has the occasional violent fit. And then there's 17-year-old Tom--handsome, charming, athletic--who's totally bonkers behind his boy-next-door facade: he has visions, hears voices, believes he's being directed by a deity called SOLA, and plans to kill his entire family (except Kit) at Christmastime. And even after Tom waves a gun at neighbor Esther, tells everyone about SOLA, and is seen by the other kids masturbating and raping himself with a toilet plunger (shouting ""My cock my cock so big and hard suck it fuck it""), the family's so uptight that they just wait around to be killed: Tom butchers two neighbors, both parents, grandma, and three siblings. The basic point--that those photogenic WASPy families sometimes are just as crazy as ethnic ones--has been made before; Woody Allen said it all in just a few, hilarious minutes of Annie Hall. Scoppettone (Some Unknown Person) merely lays it on indiscriminately, in a shallow jazzy style full of flashbacks that's effective only in the few well-observed glimpses of kids acting normally. So: enough family pathology to keep a Psych, 101 class busy all semester--but the clinical potpourri doesn't add up, leaving this an unconvincing and unimaginative sick-a-thon that's ultimately just exploitational and more than a little loathsome.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1980
Publisher: Putnam