AFTER DELORES by Sarah Schulman


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Schulman (The Sophie Horowitz Story; Girls, Visions, and Everything) pens a funky tale of life in N.Y.C.'s Lower East Side, in which a jilted lesbian seeking revenge drifts into a love triangle that ends in murder. When the unnamed narrator stumbles into a gay dance one winter night, all she wants is another beer and sweet oblivion--but she meets a Priscilla Presley imitator who gets her thinking about revenge. ""Pris"" pegs the beer-groggy narrator as a bad case, hopelessly hung up on the memory of Delores, a tough cookie who took up with a yuppie Vogue photographer named Sunshine. Pris splits, but leaves a cute little gun behind. The narrator then drifts on to her favorite bar and meets Punkette, a winsome teen-ager who sells her an answering machine and invites her home. The tenement apartment they go to belongs to Charlotte, Punkette's beautiful and brutal lover, a fact that stuns the narrator days later when she reads in the paper that Punkette (a.k.a. Marianne) has been murdered. The narrator tracks down Charlotte at a Lower East Side theater; the Irish Beauty is rehearsing a scene with her older lover Beatriz, and the magnetism and intrigue between the two are a fatal lure for the alcohol-soaked narrator. As boozy months pass, Punkette's murder gets entwined with mournful revenge fantasies about Delores. So, when the true murderer turns up (thanks to an old recording on that answering machine), the narrator goes gunning for symbolic revenge. Occasional passages of strong writing float rudderless within this overall claustrophobic muddle that trades in garbled platitudes about relationships and rejection--and Schulman's lonely outlaw lesbian is really an old-fashioned sot at heart. The author's cult following may go for this; others will be wise to pass it by.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton