Like most teenage boys, Jack, the hero-narrator of this curious coming-of-age tale, is sort of sex-crazy, fascinated by everything from National Geographic to the nudist magazines collected by his strange stepfather, Gent Mundy, proprietor of the local dairy in Far Cry. Attempting by turns to be farcical and madcap, the book never really attains the level of consistently zany humor it is searching for. The plot involves Jack's relationships with women, starting with his sexy mother, Jade, who marries Gent and immediately cuckolds him by taking up with Guy Rampling, a milk deliveryman. Then there is LaDonna, Jack's sister, an appealing free spirit of a girl who unfortunately grows less interesting as the story unfurls; in fact, a book about her might have been more intriguing than the one the author has given us. Although the initial chapters describing Jack's household are amusing, the narrative soon begins to meander and loses much of the energy and frivolity it seemed to promise. DeMarinis also wrote the well-received short story collection, Under the Wheat. (November 19)
This work is meant to be a coming-of-age story about Jack, a shiftless young man in a very odd family. Its members include his seductive sister LaDonna, a brilliant would-be scientist; his mother, a perpetually dissatisfied woman who destroys the men who fall under her spell; and the men themselves, a mostly pitiful lot. What begins as a truly humorous story about an interesting family is eventually spoiled by the author's self-indulgent whining. Jack's unsuccessful attempts at a life on his own and his ultimate return home and supposed maturity at the book's end are simply not as interesting as the family dynamics. The irreverent style will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, and the like, but sadly DeMarinis neglects to tell a story. Susan Avallone, ``Library Journal''