UNTIL YOUR HEART STOPS by T.M. McNally

UNTIL YOUR HEART STOPS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Murky first novel centered on a teenage suicide, by a past winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award (Low Flying Aircraft, 1991). A boy fatally shoots himself at a suburban Arizona high school, and tensions build among other students and teachers, including: Joe, whose mother went out to get her hair done and never came back and whose nine-year-old brother, Spencer, is recovering in a wheelchair from an accident; legally blind Edith, Joe's girlfriend, who insists on taking driver's ed and keeps her father's homosexuality a secret; Jenna, Edith's swim coach, whose past catches up with her in the form of skin-mag photos; and Ray--a driver's ed teacher, Joe's wrestling coach, Jenna's ex-lover--who goes on a binge that leads to violence at a topless bar. McNally apparently had the ambitious idea of showing how each character constructs knowledge. Unfortunately, though, the narrative-cum- epistemology plays out in a portentous pseudo-wisdom that kicks off many chapters and in too many explorations of vagueness and confusion (``...she thinks she doesn't know about...what it's all supposed to mean and she wants someone to be at fault because somebody's got to be at fault. Somebody's got to be to blame because somebody here has been doing something wrong. Somebody, and nothing here is ever going to be the same. Because nothing's real, there's nothing real at all except for what you feel like...''). Scenes focused on naively optimistic Spencer are welcome for their clarity. Sex and violence without sensationalism, but so distanced as to keep any emotional response well-muffled.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41826-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1992




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