A REAL MAN by Shylah Boyd


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Novella (featuring a footloose female adventurer) plus four stories: Boyd (American Made, 1975) writes largely through dialogue and in an energetic colloquial style. Sophisticated writer Faye Nelson travels alone on a cross-country camping trip--during which she observes salt-of-the-earth people; sleeps with various men (and sometimes falls in love, but has to keep moving); and listens to the problems of various women. On first meeting her, folks say, ""You're quite a gal,"" but the reader already knows Faye is terrific because in the first chapter she spends $10,000 to help a casually encountered barmaid regain custody of her daughter. The life of the solitary wanderer can be dangerous, but Faye is destined to prevail: men who try to mess with her--drug-running rednecks off the Keys; a creepy campground manager in South Dakota--end up dead; by the end of the novella, Faye's even got a real man to love and is pregnant by him, though, at 40, she'd given up hope of having a child. The other stories include a tense encounter between an escaped killer and his ex-girlfriend; two small, expendable tales set in Latin America; and an account of unpleasant passengers and conversations on the Long Island Railroad. Triumphant tale of an American road hero--except this time, she's a heroine. In all: often entertaining, though the fantasy-fulfillment quality of this gender-reversal adventure approaches parody and makes one wish Boyd had her tongue more clearly in cheek.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1990
Publisher: British American--dist. by Simon & Schuster