THE SHADOW MAN by Sophia Shafquat


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 A wise and witty first novel detailing the lonely days and nights of a single California woman--a quiet, melancholy tale infused with surprising and delightful whimsy. At 29, Leslie Kovalksy is still a drifter, having driven cross-country from her New Jersey home to take up a sort of borderline existence on the California coastline. A former ballet dancer, she does work as a paralegal, snips magazine articles, makes love with whoever asks, and wanders the beach at all hours, but she still hasn't managed to identify the life--or the man--of her dreams. A brief, obsessive affair with a hang glider leads her into a quirky friendship with Cornelia, his German, live-in girlfriend whose funny English (American men are ``weert''--as unsubstantial as ``sheddos'') endears her to Leslie. Wanting earnestly to do the right thing, Leslie helps pry Cornelia from her unhealthy lover and even finds her a job, but both attempts end in disaster. So do Leslie's frequent if tentative attempts at finding love: a handsome truck driver propositions her but fails to perform; a cousin of her boss's behaves piggishly and drives a ``penismobile''; an older friend and running partner turns inexplicably surly when Leslie lends out his books on how to swim; and even her next-door-neighbor, a possible Mr. Right, starts ridiculing her for how little money she makes. Bewildered by the frequent emotional eruptions of friends she's just trying to please, comforted only by Cornelia's ``weert'' English and the poetic musings of Dr. Love, a beach bum she encounters near her house, Leslie begins to sense that the secret to life lies not in the storyline she longs to create for herself but in mysterious fragments that resist being--and should never be--forced together. A poetic, sweet, and memorable story--and a remarkably accomplished debut.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-877946-25-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993