Andrea Barrett, Lucid Stars (Delta, 1988)
[originally posted 10Apr2000]
After just over two months of struggling with this boring, insipid, uninspiring novel, I finally sent it flying out the window into a convenient rainstorm last week. It’s not so much that it’s a BAD book, really (although insipid is probably the best word I can think of to describe it), it’s just that it’s been done so much better. Okay, here’s the scenario. Young girl from small town is swept off her feet by cosmopolitan socialite, gets pregnant, gets married, finds out that life married to cosmopolitan socialite ain’t that great, has kid, leaves cosmopolitan socialite, cos. so. marries second wife, first wife and daughter heal rift. Hmmmm. We’ve never heard THAT one before.
Once again, we have an overused half-baked plot, and we have a convenient piece of excellent work to hold it up against. If you want a dysfunctional family circus, it’s hard to do better than Michael Cunningham’s Flesh and Blood. It’s good that people try, because eventually someone will write a better, funnier, sadder, more intimate novel than Cunningham’s, but the discerning reader will realize, by now, that in order to find the bigger pearl, one will be reading a whole lot of swine. (zero)