MAIDEN RITES by Sonia Pilcer


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Hannah Wolfe, 18, aspires ""to a life of the mind, affaires du coeur, intensity, cappucino, sweaters from Benders in eleven colors, existential crises""--but, unfortunately, she lives with her parents in Flushing and goes to Queens College. So, Hannah figures, she needs more than a nose-job: she's got to compensate in other ways. And she therefore begins hanging around bookstores near Columbia U.--where she one day makes a catch: a nice blond WASP engineering student, Wayne, with whom she has coffee. The next week, however, Wayne stands Hannah up. So who does Hannah meet instead? Moshe Wozinsky--Columbia drop-out, balding, a junior Sartre, très neurotic. But Hannah, desperate for worldliness, decides she loves Moshe and is ready and eager to sacrifice her virginity to him. It goes less than wholly gracefully: ""While Moshe threw up in the bathroom, my worst fears congregated on a platform just above my hairline. Suppose I couldn't figure out how to move my hips? Pretend you're dancing. More critical: I was tiny, impenetrable, and he couldn't get in without an operation."" The deflowering is a success, however, and Hannah is soon pushed into a world she never suspected existed: the emotional withdrawal and defensiveness and jealousy of the urban male. Pilcer (Teen Angel) writes about all this with pore-exploded over-magnification--sweet/ comic-style. Her portrayal of the yearning hunger that young outer-borough New Yorkers feel--for the mythic life just over the river in ""the City""--is especially, tartly on-target. But, nice and wry as Hannah is, the novel is a lot about a little: post-adolescent adventures, a few funny (and recognizable) sex fumbles, the expected bitter-sweet knowledge at the end--with a modicum of juicily authentic fun that is soon stretched awfully thin.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking