BY THE SHORES OF GITCHEE GUMEE by Tama Janowitz

BY THE SHORES OF GITCHEE GUMEE

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A fifth novel from downtown doyenne Janowitz (The Male Cross- Dresser Support Group, 1992, etc.), who seems not to realize that satire, while it may be absurd, must first of all be funny. The depiction of some ``scene'' (usually urban, hip, and deracinated) has been the obsessive concern of Janowitz's work to date--to such an unrelenting degree that she has herself become a byword for the slacker demimonde that flourished in the East Village during the Reagan and Bush years. Now that history has moved on, Janowitz attempts to broaden her perspective by taking a road trip with Evangeline Slivenowicz and her five children. The Slivenowiczes live in a trailer in upstate New York, where Evangeline seduces hapless men to make ends meet and warns her daughters that ``You mustn't judge men by the same standards as women. They don't have any standards.'' One of these boyfriends proves the point by going berserk and holding half the village hostage in the library until the FBI intervenes and provokes a miniature bloodbath. The resulting embarrassment, plus the accidental loss of the Slivenowicz trailer beneath the waters of Lake Gitchee Gumee, convinces Evangeline that a change of scenery is in order, and all set out for California to help Evangeline's son Pierce break into pictures. Meanwhile, Evangeline and her daughters allow themselves to be serviced with greater frequency than their car seems to be, while the sons sulk about their paternity and work Longfellow into most of their sentences. A deranged English lord, an undersexed policeman, several delivery men, and a vacuum cleaner salesman are some of the new friends they pick up along the way, which runs along an uneven line from the Adirondacks to Key West to the desert and on to the Pacific. Tedious, clumsy, and overdone. Janowitz, in giving us her usual freak show, misses the essential element of satire-- credibility. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-517-70298-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1996




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